Archive | April, 2009

Amazon Disputes Hacker Claims of Ranking Manipulation

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


A while back it was all over the blogs and Twitter that Amazon had somehow demoted Gay and Lesbian themed books to keep them from showing up in searches.

There was outrage from all the civil rights folks especially in the LBGT camp (rightfully so if it was true).

After that the rumour started the manipulation was carried about by hackers misusing an XSS flaw in the reporting mechanism.

Amazon.com is disputing an account that a hacker was to blame for an error that caused thousands of books to lose their sales ranks over the weekend. According to Amazon.com Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith, the situation was due to a cataloging error. Smith disputed a supposed confession posted on a LiveJournal discussion group April 13, in which a hacker identified as “Weev” claimed he had exploited an Amazon.com feature for reporting inappropriate content.

“The thing about the adult reporting function of Amazon was that it was vulnerable to something called “Cross-site request forgery,'” he wrote. “This means if I referred someone to the URL of the successful complaint, it would register as a complaint if they were logged in.

“I know some people who run some extremely high traffic (Alexa top 1000) Websites. I show them my idea, and we all agree that it is pretty funny,” he continued. “They put an invisible iframe in their Websites to refer people to the complaint URLs, which caused huge numbers of visitors to report gay and lesbian items as inappropriate without their knowledge.”

It’s a pretty neat trick, just embed an iframe into some heavily trafficked websites and every time they get visited your cross site request is sent and a vote/report is made.

It leveraged on the ability to report inappropriate content, I’m guessing from what happened that the Amazon system has some automated threshold for tagging stuff that’s reporting x number of times.

However, contrary to statements in Weev’s blog entry and some reports, the situation was not limited to gay-themed books.

“It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles—in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica,” Smith said in a statement. “This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.”

The situation has drawn the ire of some gay and lesbian rights groups concerned that gay-themed books were being censored. In addition, some authors have claimed in press reports that they received e-mails from Amazon.com stating that their books had been placed in an unranked Adult category and excluded from some searches.

At least they’ve acknowledged there is some kind of problem, they understand the scope and are working on fixing it.

I hope they are better than the average corporate and actually fix the root cause too, not just fix the fall-out and patch up the flaw.

Who knows, this may develop further.

Source: eWeek

Posted in: Hacking News

Topic: Hacking News


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ScreenStamp! – Free Screenshot Tool With Timestamp

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


What is ScreenStamp!

ScreenStamp! is basically a screen grabbing application for pen-testing and people working in forensics. The app will ask you for a location to save your screen shots to, along with a name that the program will number, allowing the user to concentrate on the job at hand as opposed to saving screen shots.

ScreenStamp! also time and date stamps the screen shot at the top right hand corner.

Where did the ScreenStamp! idea come from?


A bunch of students studying Ethical Hacking for Computer Security were carrying out an Information Gathering exercise the task of taking and saving screen shots with the clock opened and date showing was repetitive and tedious, so the group members decided that an application that would do this would be useful. After failing to find an existing application that fulfilled their needs they created one.

ScreenStamp! will not only be available to use on Windows operating systems but also Linux and Mac.

You can download ScreenStamp! here:

screenstamp_win_v1_8.zip
screenstamp_v.1.0.tar.gz

Or read more here.

Posted in: Forensics, Security Software

Topic: Forensics, Security Software


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Industrial Control Systems Safe? I Think Not

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


It seems like there is some serious hacking going on, attacks on power stations and industrial control systems.

You’d think most of these systems would be offline, or at least behind a solid DMZ. But as we’ve seen before they often get exposed by people plugging into the LAN then accessing the net through dial-up or nowadays through mobile data (HSDPA/3G etc.).

The sad thing is deaths have actually resulted from such intrusions.

The networks powering industrial control systems have been breached more than 125 times in the past decade, with one resulting in U.S. deaths, a control systems expert said Thursday.

Joseph Weiss, managing partner of control systems security consultancy Applied Control Solutions, didn’t detail the breach that caused deaths during his testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, but he did say he’s been able to find evidence of more than 125 control systems breaches involving systems in nuclear power plants, hydroelectric plants, water utilities, the oil industry and agribusiness.

“The impacts have ranged from trivial to significant environmental damage to significant equipment damage to deaths,” he told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “We’ve already had a cyber incident in the United States that has killed people.”

More than 125 breaches? That’s quite a significant number. The scary part is the Nuclear plants, imagine if a cyberterrorist or hacker can cause a Nuclear meltdown or malfunction in a Nuclear facility?

I’d like to see the US government look into this area a little more and perhaps implement some new standards for Control System security.

It’s an area that really needs tighter security and legislation.

At other times, Weiss has talked about a June 1999 gasoline pipeline rupture near Bellingham, Washington. That rupture spilled more than 200,000 gallons of gasoline into two creeks, which ignited and killed three people. Investigators found several problems that contributed to the rupture, but Weiss has identified a computer failure in the pipeline’s central control room as part of the problem.

It could take the U.S. a long time to dig out from coordinated attacks on infrastructure using control systems, Weiss told senators. Damaged equipment could take several weeks to replace, he said. A coordinated attack “could be devastating to the U.S. economy and security,” he said. “We’re talking months to recover. We’re not talking days.”

The industrial control system industry is years behind the IT industry in protecting cybersecurity, and some of the techniques used in IT security would damage control systems, Weiss added. “If you penetration-test a legacy industrial control system, you will shut it down or kill it,” he said. “You will be your own hacker.”

The problem with these kind of attacks is they might involve multiple vectors in one attack which means it takes a long long time to investigate and work out what actually happened.

It’s backwards too because Industrial Control Systems are so important in our lives but their security is so so far behind.

Definitely an area to watch, I hope some positive improvements are made.

Source: CIO (Thanks Navin)

Posted in: Hacking News, Hardware Hacking

Topic: Hacking News, Hardware Hacking


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OAT (OCS Assessment Tool) – Office Communication Server Security Assessment Tool

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


OAT is an Open Source Security tool designed to check the password strength of Microsoft Office Communication Server users. After a password is compromised, OAT demonstrates potential UC attacks that can be performed by legitimate users if proper security controls are not in place.

Features

  • Online Dictionary Attack
  • Presence Stealing
  • Contact List Stealing
  • Single User Flood Mode (Internal)
  • Domain Flood Mode (Internal)
  • Call Walk (Internal/External)
  • Play Spam Audio
  • Detailed Report Generation

OAT Modes

Internal Network Attack Mode

Internal Network Mode simulates attacks from the internal IP network, where the attacker has unrestricted access to shared resources and reachability to servers. OCS users are provisioned on a Domain Controller (DC) and can query the DC for data. OAT exploits internal network access by querying the DC for all the communication enabled users. It then adds these users to the attack list.


The following attacks can be performed from the internal network

  • Single user IM Flood
  • Domain IM Flood
  • Call Walk

External Network Attack Mode

External Network Attack Mode simulates the real world attack scenario in which an attacker is outside of the corporate IP network. An attacker sourced from outside of the firewall can not directly query the DC unless they know its hostname.

Once the Dictionary attack is successful against target user, OAT functions like a legitimate OCS client, registering itself with Office Communication Server. Once registered, OAT queries for the contact list of target user and uses this information to create a victim target list. This information is useful for the next attack phase.

The following tests can be performed from the external network

  • Contact List Stealing
  • List IM Flood
  • Call Walking

You can download OAT here:

OAT1.0.zip

Or read more here.

Posted in: Hacking Tools, Networking Hacking, Windows Hacking

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Spammers Recover from McColo Shutdown – Spam Back To 91%

Keep on Guard!


You might remember back in November last year Spam ISP McColo was Cut Off From the Internet and there was a fairly drastic drop in spam e-mail traffic.

Well it looks like the spammers have got their acts back together as spam levels are back up to 91% of their previous volume.

Having McColo shut down was nice, but honestly did anyone think it was going to have a serious long term effect on spam? I didn’t…the spammers are going to find another ISP they can use, even if it’s in another country.

Junk e-mail now back to 91% of its usual levels, says Symantec.

The days of blissfully empty in-boxes are long gone – get ready for another onslaught of spam. Symantec’s monthly State of Spam report, out today, shows that levels of spam are approaching the dizzy heights they reached last year, before the sudden shutdown of rogue hosting company McColo.

It estimates that spam now comprises about 85 per cent of all email traffic, thanks to old bot-nets being brought back online and new ones created.

So if you’re a sys-admin and you’ve been enjoying the break from super high volumes of spam – be prepared for it to start pouring back in again.

It seems like South America is seeing a rise in spam activites too, perhaps due to the spread of Internet connectivity and broadband rollout.

You often see the numbers of compromised machines in a country or region is extremely high when they first get connected (remember when Korea came online?).

The EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region continues to be the leading source of all zombie IP addresses, hosting 45 per cent of active zombie computers in March 2009 – although Brazil has seen a surge in compromised computers. It now has 14 per cent of all the world’s zombie machines.

Despite these figures, the US continues to be the main source of spam messages (accounting for a full quarter of all spam sent) – the UK has the dubious honour of rounding out the top ten, with a 2 per cent share.

Symantec has also noticed a change in spam subject matter, from get-rich-quick schemes to the sad business of avoiding having your home repossessed.

One ray of spring sunshine – video spam has not taken off as some experts feared. The most common size of spam email (75 per cent of all sent) is a featherweight 2 to 5 KB.

Seems like even the nature of spam is changing to accommodate the recession, these spammers really capitalise on whatever is going on in the World.

I guess that’s why it works and why they still keep spamming, basic social engineering and greed work very well together.

Thankfully no video spam though, imagine if you’re on mobile data…and you start receiving 1-3mb spams!

Source: Techradar (Thanks Navin)

Posted in: Malware, Phishing, Spammers & Scammers

Topic: Malware, Phishing, Spammers & Scammers


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EFIPW – Modify Apple EFI Firmware Passwords

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


EFIPW is a tool that can be used to decode and modify Apple EFI firmware passwords via the command line. It is designed after the non open source OFPW utility and is designed to work on Intel machines running Leopard or newer. Useful for lab deployments (setting the firmware password of machines as a post install item) and pen tests (recovering the EFI firmware password).

Tested on:

  • Core Duo (1st gen) Macbook Pro 15″
  • Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro 15″

Technical details on how it works here.

You can download EFIPW v0.1a here:

efipw_v0.1a.zip

Or read more here.

Posted in: Apple, Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Hardware Hacking, Password Cracking

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