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Web host Linode, hackers clash over credit-card raid claim

Crooks boast of swiped privates via ColdFusion hole

Website security in corporate America

Crooks claim they gained access to server hosting biz Linode's customer passwords and credit card numbers.

On Friday, Linode said someone tried to compromise one of its clients' machines, but insisted no financially sensitive information was leaked. Linode reset all account passwords as a precautionary measure. The virtual server provider stated:

Linode administrators have discovered and blocked suspicious activity on the Linode network. This activity appears to have been a coordinated attempt to access the account of one of our customers. This customer is aware of this activity and we have determined its extent and impact. We have found no evidence that any Linode data of any other customer was accessed. In addition, we have found no evidence that payment information of any customer was accessed.

We have been advised that law enforcement officials are aware of the intrusion into this customer’s systems. We have implemented all appropriate measures to provide the maximum amount of protection to our customers. Out of an abundance of caution, however, we have decided to implement a Linode Manager password reset.

But on Monday, the hackers broke cover to dispute Linode's version of events: the miscreants revealed hashed passwords, source code snippets and directory listings to substantiate their claims that they obtained credit card details and the hashed password database from a Linode management system.

The infiltrators sneaked into the server via an insecure installation of web app maker Adobe ColdFusion, according to a transcript of the hackers' IRC chatter. "It's surprising that anyone is still running ColdFusion - that's like connecting a Windows 98 box to the internet without a firewall," said "Ryan", a representative of the HTP black-hat crew that apparently slurped the data.

Ryan claimed Linode encrypted its customers' credit card information but "both the private and public keys were stored on the web server", implying that the cache could be decrypted.

Today Linode, which operates a cloud of Linux virtual servers, responded to these claims with an updated statement denying that customer credit card data was leaked. It blamed a ColdFusion bug for allowing in the hackers:

Yesterday, a group named HTP claimed responsibility for accessing Linode Manager web servers, we believe by exploiting a previously unknown zero-day vulnerability in Adobe’s ColdFusion application server. The vulnerabilities have only recently been addressed in Adobe’s APSB13-10 hotfix (CVE-2013-1387 and CVE-2013-1388) which was released less than a week ago.

As a result of the vulnerability, this group gained access to a web server, parts of our source code, and ultimately, our database. We have been working around the clock since discovering this vulnerability. Our investigation reveals that this group did not have access to any other component of the Linode infrastructure, including access to the host machines or any other server or service that runs our infrastructure.

Credit card numbers in our database are stored in encrypted format, using public and private key encryption. The private key is itself encrypted with passphrase encryption and the complex passphrase is not stored electronically. Along with the encrypted credit card, the last four digits are stored in clear text to assist in lookups and for display on things like your Account tab and payment receipt emails. We have no evidence decrypted credit card numbers were obtained.

Linode has come under attack from black hats before. Last year Linode was hacked by cyber-thieves who made off with a stash of bitcoins worth $71,000 after breaking into the digital safety deposit boxes of eight of its customers. Linode promised to revamp its security procedures in the wake of the robbery. ®

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