Feeds

Gawker tech boss admits site security was crap

'We lost your trust and don't deserve it back'

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Gawker Media plans to overhaul its web infrastructure and require employees to use two-factor authentication when accessing sensitive documents stored online, following an embarrassing attack that completely rooted the publisher's servers.

The publisher of Gawker, Gizmodo, and seven other popular websites also plans to, gasp, mandate the use of secure sockets layer encryption for all users with Gawker Media accounts on Google Apps, according to a memo written by Gawker tech boss Tom Plunkett and published Friday by The Next Web. The company-wide message conceded a point first made by the perpetrators of the hack: That Gawker Media's security was utter crap.

“It is clear that the Gawker tech team did not adequately secure our platform from an attack of this nature,” Plunkett wrote. “We were also not prepared to respond when it was necessary.”

Indeed, security researchers who examined the web platform's source code were amazed as just how poorly the site was put together.

“Having looked at the Gawker PHP source, I'm shocked it hasn't happened sooner,” Mike Bailey, who specializes in web-application security recently tweeted. “Test code all over the place, bugs galore.”

“Gonna go ahead and make a prediction: Nothing short of a full site rewrite is going to keep Gawker online at this point,” he said in another message.

Another amateur goof was the use of DES, or Data Encryption Standard, to protect some 1.5 million account passwords despite long-known weakness in the hashing algorithm. As a result, the attackers were able to retrieve the first eight characters of plaintext for each one.

Plunkett also laid out plans for disposable reader accounts that could be dumped at any time and said that the publisher would no longer store email addresses and other reader data.

“On all of our sites, we will be introducing several new features to our commenting system to acknowledge the reality that we have lost the commenters' trust and don't deserve it back,” he wrote. “We should not be in the business of collecting and storing personal information, and our objective is to migrate our platform away from any personal data dependencies (like email & password). ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.