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Webhost denies poor passwords led to catastrophic hack

VAServ contradicts purported attackers

Website security in corporate America

The director of an internet service provider has denied public allegations that poor password management and server configurations were responsible for an attack that wiped out data for more than 100,000 websites.

Rus Foster, director of VAServ.com, also says he was shocked when he learned the head of an Indian software firm hanged himself shortly after his software was fingered in the breach of the UK-based website host. As previously reported, the apparent suicide of K T Ligesh came around the same time Foster said an zero-day vulnerability in a virtualization management application made by Ligesh's LxLabs led to the catastrophic intrusion.

"I wondered if I was responsible in some way," Foster said during a brief phone call with The Register. "I'm just so, so tired."

The comments came a few hours after an anonymous posting from one of the purported attackers claimed Foster's repeated use of the same four passwords laid the groundwork for the mass compromise of VAServ's system. It went on to say that VAServ's main website ran on what's known as a virtualized private server, a configuration that the writer claimed made the password attack work quickly.

"Z3r0 day in hypervm??" the anonymous poster wrote, substituting numbers for letters as is common in hacker parlance. "Plz u give us too much credit."

Foster said he has discounted the posting because it contained fabricated details, including passwords and IP addresses.

"I don't have any of those passwords," he said of the secret phrases that were included in the post. "I don't recognize them."

Indeed, the post was general enough that it could have been written by anyone. It was originally added to this thread discussing the Vaserv incident on a website that caters to webhosts. It was quickly removed and later reposted here.

Some 48 hours after data was suddenly deleted from more than 200 servers operated by VAServ, company technicians have managed to retrieve lost information and restore service for some but not all of the 100,000 to 150,000 websites it hosted. Foster warned on Monday that data for some customers who signed up for unmanaged accounts was likely gone forever.

The ordeal has proved trying for Foster, who announced in a posting Vaserv was being taken over by a larger hosting provider known as BlueSquare.

"I've personally reached the end of my physical and emotitional [sic] tether," he wrote here. He went on to say he decided to "do what is best for the customer 'base' as it stands and get some big boys in behind to help get things back up and running and give people a chance." ®

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