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Adobe Connect breach pops lid off 'Letmein' logins of gov, army types

Plus: Did someone forget the salt?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A breach of Adobe's Connectusers.com forum database has once again exposed password security foibles, as well as website security shortcomings on Adobe's part.

Adobe suspended the forum on Tuesday night in response to the hack, as previously reported. The software developer stressed in a statement that its Adobe Connect web conferencing service itself was not affected by the breach.

An Egyptian hacker named "ViruS_HimA" has stepped forward to claim he hacked into "one of Adobe's servers" before extracting a database containing email addresses, password hashes and other information of over 150,000 Adobe customers, partners and employees.

ViruS_HimA published a limited set of records for users with email addresses ending in adobe.com, .mil and .gov as a means to substantiate his claims on Pastebin.

A statement from Adobe spokeswoman Wiebke Lips appears to back up this claim. Lips said: "The forum has a total of about 150,000 registered users. The attacker leaked 644 records."

She added: "We reset the passwords of all Connectusers.com forum members and are reaching out to those members with instructions on how to set up new passwords once the forum services are restored."

In the Pastebin leak post, which has since been pulled, ViruS_HimA said he had targeted Adobe because of shortcomings in its handling of security reports. He promised a leak against Yahoo! would follow.

Analysis of the leak sample by Paul Ducklin, head of technology, Asia Pacific at Sophos, shows that Adobe used MD5, a hashing protocol known to be weak. It also failed to salt password hashes, an extra security precaution that thwarts brute force attacks based on compiling rainbow tables of password hashes from dictionaries of plain text passwords.

Ducklin reports that some of the 644 leaked password hashes corresponded to lame passwords such as "Letmein", "123456" and "welcome" all multiple entrants on the list. Passwords like breeze and connect (Adobe product names) appear four times each, he adds.

Tal Be'ery, a security researcher at Imperva, said an examination of the leak data suggested it came from a valid but old database.

"We compared some names in the leaked files against Linkedin.com and found out that the names in the file were people who had worked for Adobe but no longer employed there. This suggests that this list is valid [but] the hacked database is probably pretty old." Password hashes were not salted to guard against brute force cracking attacks, Be'ery adds.

"Based on an analysis of the leaked data, the password hashes - encrypted versions of the passwords - stored in the compromised Adobe database had been generated with MD5, a cryptographic hash function that's known to be insecure. This means that they can easily be cracked to recover the original passwords," he concludes. ®

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