Feeds

Stolen RSA data used to hack defense contractor

SecurID woes catch up to Lockheed Martin

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.