Feeds

Security elite pwned on Black Hat eve

Kaminsky, Mitnick, et al

Seven Steps to Software Security

On the eve of the Black Hat security conference, malicious hackers posted a 29,000-line file detailing embarrassing attacks that took complete control of servers and websites run by several high-profile security researchers, including Dan Kaminsky and Kevin Mitnick.

The file posted on security mailing lists claimed to have obtained more than four years' worth of data from Kaminsky, and as proof, it offered a smattering of emails, instant messages, and other communications that laid out sensitive research work and intimate personal conversations. It also revealed multiple passwords Kaminsky used and back-end configurations for Kaminsky's website, which was yanked offline Tuesday afternoon and remained down at time of writing almost 24 hours later.

The data also documented attacks on the website of security expert Kevin Mitnick, who confirmed to The Register that his website was breached after hackers gained unfettered root access to machines used by his webhost. The 1MB text file capped weeks of hacks on several other security researchers, including penetration testing firm Matasano. The breaches highlight the often-overlooked reality that even seasoned security professionals are vulnerable to attacks that can expose sensitive business secrets.

"It's the illusion of invulnerability," said Mitnick, who said he purposely kept sensitive data off the servers that ran his website. "I was actually surprised that the other people would keep their email and work data on an internet-facing host. It appeared the boxes were actively used for work."

The breaches also raise the possibility that previously unpublished research about critical security vulnerabilities may have leaked into the public domain. Among the data published Tuesday was a Perl script exploiting Kaminsky's DNS cache poisoning bug. It also aired bash scripts showing security professional Jay Beale, who had an account set up on Kaminsky's server, performing nmap scans on a variety of domain names and IP addresses (presumably belonging to clients).

Kaminsky wasn't available for comment at time of writing. He scheduled a press conference for Wednesday evening. On his Twitter page, he wrote: "Messy, but heh. Walk onto a battlefield, you might get shot."

The attacks are reminiscent of ones that hit security researchers last year. In all of them, the attackers appear more interested in personally embarrassing the researchers and damaging their business reputations than in exposing vulnerabilities so they can be fixed.

So far, it's unclear how the attacks were carried out. Freelance reporter Robert Lemos, whose website was compromised Tuesday evening, said a vulnerability in blogging software WordPress is the most likely explanation. Security researchers gathered at Black Hat have revived rumors that there's a zero-day vulnerability that's being exploited in SSH applications, but so far, there is no evidence to support the suspicions. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.