Feeds

Security elite pwned on Black Hat eve

Kaminsky, Mitnick, et al

Website security in corporate America

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The breaches also raise the possibility that previously unpublished research about critical security vulnerabilities may have leaked into the public domain.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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.