Feeds

Security elite pwned on Black Hat eve

Kaminsky, Mitnick, et al

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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The breaches also raise the possibility that previously unpublished research about critical security vulnerabilities may have leaked into the public domain.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

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.