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Web cesspit 4chan touts '$20 bug bounty' after hackers ruin Moot's day

Founder's admin account hijacked, then loses Amazon keys to 'Bitcoin' bandit

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Internet armpit 4chan now has a bug bounty – although with just $20 in "self-serve ad spend" on the website or an annual membership up for grabs, it's not particularly bountiful.

The bounty programme was launched after the image-board website and a drawing website, both founded by Chris "moot" Poole, were compromised by miscreants.

The bounty [details here] may help to deter future attacks by encouraging hackers to quietly report vulnerabilities so they could be fixed.

But 4chan's effort could be hindered as the cashless reward stands as one of the stingiest on the internet, with researchers rewarded the princely sum of 20 bucks in "self-serve ad spend" or a free annual 4chan membership (worth $20) for each bug disclosure, plus recognition in the presently empty hall of fame.

Poole blogged about how he had awoken last week to a series of missed phone calls from pals who told him he'd "been hacked twice in one day".

He detailed how a sextet of security blunders allowed a hacker to login as moot on 4chan and cause more than the usual chaos on 4chan, and let another villain tap into Poole's DrawQuest Amazon cloud account to spin up a 100 heavyweight virtual machines – which he went on to suggest may have been used for Bitcoin mining.

The damage was bad enough to lead Poole to sink the unprofitable but popular online sketch board DrawQuest, rather than invest in securing the site, and subsequently send its 100,000 active artists packing.

"Waking up to a string of missed calls is rarely a harbinger of good, and this time would prove no different," Poole said of the morning of 30 April.

"On one hand I'm frustrated we made such simple mistakes that resulted in very real consequences, but also grateful that it provided us an opportunity to learn from those mistakes and share them with the world."

Poole said the hacker busted into his 4chan account to out a user they "disliked", but evidently took the opportunity to wreak havoc by exposing moderators' names and IP addresses.

The hacker apparently exploited a SQL injection vulnerability on a defunct 4chan.org page used to generate statistics, and eventually nabbed Poole's login credentials. The infiltrator may have referred to old 4chan PHP source code that was leaked a while back.

Later that day, that hacker or another one popped up in DrawQuest's Amazon account, Poole explained.

Poole explained the hacker broke in after the website's source code was made public – and even though the private Amazon account keys were scrubbed from the latest revision of the code, they remained in the version history. This allowed the miscreant to pluck the keys from an old commit, and spin up a hundred extra-large compute instances.

"It was a long day to say the least," Poole said.

He warned admins to avoid single points of failure, assume active methods were ineffective, and to regularly reassess security system. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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