Feeds

Digital certificate authority suspends ops following breach

Hackers access database, gain control over website

High performance access to file storage

Websites belonging to a Netherlands-based issuer of digital certificates were unavailable following reports hackers penetrated their security and accessed databases that should have been off limits.

Dutch telecommunications giant KPN issued a statement (translation here) that said it temporarily shut the website of it's Gemnet subsidiary while it investigated the hack. A second website belonging to a KPN subsidiary that issues digital certificates to the Dutch government was also taken down.

The breach, which was first reported by Webwereld journalist Brenno de Winter, is the latest to compromise one of the several hundred online businesses authorized to mint digital certificates millions of websites and government and corporate networks rely on to shield communications from eavesdroppers. In August, another Netherlands-based certificate authority also suspended operations after it issued a fraudulent secure sockets layer certificate for Google.

DigiNotar eventually went bankrupt after an investigation revealed that shoddy security led to the issuance of dozens of counterfeit credentials, including one for Google Mail that was used to target more than 300,000 people accessing their Gmail accounts.

A half-dozen or so other authorities are also known to have suffered security breaches in the past year or so. One of them happened last month to KPN Corporate Market, which is owned by the same Netherlands-based firm that operates Gemnet.

According to de Winter's report on Webwereld, a hacker broke into a Gemnet database after exploiting poor password policies set up on its PHPMyAdmin server. As a result, attackers were not only able to access all documents stored on the machine, but also to take control of it. The article said the hacker came forward to prevent the kind of debacle DigiNotar created, but "he has also found evidence that he is not the first person who have gained access to the systems."

In its statement, KPN said there was no connection between the possible website breach and the issuance of digital certificates. It appears that the only contents available in the database was the information visible to website visitors, the company said. It said it decided to temporarily close the website out of an abundance of caution.

Representatives of Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google, makers of the world's three most widely used browsers, said security personnel are investigating the reports to learn if end users are at risk. This article will be updated if they respond with their findings.

The breach is being investigated by the Dutch government, IT World reported. Both Gemnet and Gemnet CSP provide digital certificates to the Dutch government, the publication said. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.