Feeds

Stolen RSA data used to hack defense contractor

SecurID woes catch up to Lockheed Martin

Reducing security risks from open source software

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has confirmed that a recent attack on its network was aided by the theft of confidential data relating to RSA SecurID tokens employees use to access sensitive corporate and government computer systems.

According to an email the company sent to reporters, theft of the data for the RSA tokens was “a direct contributing factor” in last month's intrusion into its network. The New York Times, which reported on the email earlier, cited government and industry officials, who said the hackers used some of the purloined information and other techniques to “piece together the coded password of a Lockheed contractor who had access to Lockheed's system.”

Lockheed said it detected the attack soon enough to prevent those responsible from accessing important data. The company is in the process of replacing 45,000 SecurID tokens used by its workers when logging in corporate networks from home or hotels. The contractor, which makes fighter planes, spy satellites and other gear related to national security, is also requiring workers to change their passwords.

In March, RSA said only that an extended and highly sophisticated attack on its network resulted in the theft of data that could compromise the security of SecureID's current two-factor authentication implementation as part of a broader attack on customers that use the tokens. RSA has said some 40 million people use SecurID to access sensitive data on their employers' networks.

To the chagrin of many security experts, RSA has steadfastly refused to say exactly what data was stolen, or at the very least, say whether it included details that could allow government or corporate spies to predict the one-time passwords that SecurID tokens generate every 60 seconds. Critics have speculated that the attackers obtained complete or partial seed keys that are central to the security of the devices.

Lockheed's confirmation that the theft played a direct role is sure to strengthen those assumptions. The leak would be tantamount to a thief finding a huge ring of keys without knowing the specific doors that they unlock. Hackers would still have to know which individual seed is used by a given customer or employee and then obtain a separate password used along with the one-time password generated by the token.

RSA has declined to provide any additional details about the data theft on the grounds that they would further threaten the security of its customers. In light of the information black out, The Reg has suggested customers should assume SecurID is broken, an argument that seems to be resonating with more and more security experts.

“For owner/operators that have secure remote access always on, it is time to look at and consider other authentication options besides the currently deployed SecureID tokens,” Dale G. Peterson, an expert in the security of computerized industrial control systems wrote in a blog post published on Monday.

According to Wired.com, defense contractor L3 Communications recently warned employees that hackers were targeting the company using the stolen SecurID data. Fox News has reported that Northrup Grumman also suspended remote access to its network, sparking speculation that its security has also been compromised as a result of the leak.

Representatives from RSA and its parent company EMC declined to comment for this article. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
L33t haxxors compete to p0wn popular home routers
EFF-endorsed SOHOpelessly Broken challenge will air routers' dirty zero day laundry
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
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.
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.