Feeds

Syrian Electronic Army slurps a MILLION reader passwords from Forbes

And slaps the MD5-hashed secrets all over the web

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Forbes.com has become the latest media outlet to fall to an attack by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) with the account records of more than a million people swiped.

A database containing email address and password combinations for 1,071,963 accounts was dumped online by the hacktivisits – including the records for Forbes contributors.

Although the passwords were one-way encrypted, the publisher strongly urged its readers to change their login secrets. The team added:

The email address for anyone registered with Forbes.com has been exposed. Please be wary of emails that purport to come from Forbes, as the list of email addresses may be used in phishing attacks. We have notified law enforcement. We take this matter very seriously and apologize to the members of our community for this breach.

Just how exactly did Forbes protect its punters' passwords? After looking through the data, Sophos reckoned the site stored the information in the PHPass Portable format: each password and a random 6-byte salt were together run through the MD5 algorithm to generate a hash, and 8,192 iterations of MD5 were performed on the hash and the password. The final result was saved to the database.

Users with particularly trivial passwords will be vulnerable to a dictionary attack; although the use of salt will slow down a miscreant, MD5 is hopelessly weak. The attackers can, say, combine the password “123456” with a particular user's salt and quickly generate a hash to check against that user's database entry. If it matches, the password is revealed; if not, try again with another similarly crap password.

Now that the data is out there, people who used their Forbes.com email address and password combination to log into various other websites are at risk of losing control of multiple web accounts.

"It took about an hour, using one core of a vanilla laptop, to crack close to one-quarter of the passwords of the 500 or so Forbes employees in the database," said Sophos' Paul Ducklin.

"Astonishingly, 73 Forbes staffers (more than one-eighth of the list) had chosen a password consisting of their company's name, Forbes, followed by zero to four digits. 1 and 123 were the most common suffixes.”

Three online articles were defaced by the SEA as proof it carried out the database raid, and at the time of writing, Forbes' blog sites remain out of action. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.