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Date Prev | Date Next | Date Index | Author Index | Historical [Netsec] SANS NewsBites Vol. 13 Num. 68 : Maine Voter Registration System Breached; UK Government Agrees Not To Shut Down Social Networks During Riots

  • From: The SANS Institute
  • Date: Fri Aug 26 15:39:31 2011

Hash: SHA1

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SANS NewsBites                 August 26, 2011            Vol. 13, Num. 68
  Maine Voter Registration System Breached
  UK Government Agrees Not To Shut Down Social Networks During Riots
  Twitter To Use HTTPS as Default 
  ComScore Sued Over Extensive Privacy Violations
    Security Breach Exposes 20,000 Log-ins
    Ukrainian Authorities Arrest Suspected Credit Card Fraud Gang
    U.S. Firms Targeted In Online Sabotage Attack 
    Email Sent To Bank Staff Reveal Contractors' Rates
    Apache Warns of Denial-of-Service Attack Vulnerability
    British Man Charged in Connection With Anonymous DDoS Attack
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 --Maine Voter Registration System Breached
(August 25)
In a statement on Wednesday, the Maine Secretary of State, Charlie
Summers, said that as a result of an alert from the Department of
Homeland Security's US-CERT team, his office is investigating a
potential breach of Maine's Central Voter Registration system (CVR). The
result may have been the exposure of the personal information of up to
one million registered Maine voters.  The breach appears to be the
result of a computer connected to the CVR system becoming infected with
data-stealing malware.  In an interview Summers said: "I am in the
process of assessing what, if any, information has been compromised.  I
have taken immediate action to shut this computer down and disable the
username and password assigned to the town clerk."  He said further that
he strongly suspects that data were accessed, but "We just don't know
how much or the size" of the breach.

 --UK Government Agrees Not To Shut Down Social Networks During Riots
(August 25)
In response to the riots earlier this month in England, a meeting was
held between the UK's Home Secretary, Theresa May, police, the
Association of Chief Police Officers and representatives from Facebook,
Twitter and RIM to discuss the use of social networking sites during the
riots.  Following recent comments made by the UK Prime Minister, David
Cameron, the possibility that the UK government would seek to shut down
social networks in times of civil unrest generated considerable fear.
However, it appears the meeting focused more on how social networks can
work together more closely with law enforcement agencies. A spokesperson
for the Home Office said, "The discussions looked at how law enforcement
and the networks can build on the existing relationships and
co-operation to prevent the networks being used for criminal behavior.
The government did not seek any additional powers to close down social
media networks."

 --Twitter To Use HTTPS as Default 
(August 25)
Twitter has started to roll out SSL-secured connections by default for
a number of users to allow them connect securely to the micro-blogging
service.  Connecting to Twitter by SSL was introduced earlier this year
as an option for users, but it required users to manually enable the
option.  In a post on its corporate blog Twitter said it will start to
enable SSL by default for some users.   It did not say when, or if, it
would expand SSL by default to all users.

 --ComScore Sued Over Extensive Privacy Violations
(August 24)
A class action lawsuit filed in a federal court in Chicago alleges that
the Internet tracking and analytics firm comScore has been using highly
aggressive tactics to surreptitiously collect large amounts of personal
data on individuals.  The lawsuit cites the Stored Communications Act,
the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act and Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act.  The
plaintiffs to the lawsuit claim comScore collects information such as
Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords and other data
from individuals' computers.  It also alleges that comScore's software,
when installed, will modify the computer's security settings, open
backdoors, redirect Internet traffic and scan documents and emails for
information.  On one of their websites comScore states their software
"monitors all of the Internet behavior that occurs on the computer on
which you install the application, including both your normal web
browsing and the activity that you undertake during secure sessions,
such as filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or
checking your online accounts".  The software from comScore is usually
installed when the user downloads free software products such as screen
savers or music sharing software.  A spokesman for comScore called the
lawsuit meritless.
[Editor's Note (Schultz): The amount of personally-identifiable
information that is typically collected in the course of users browsing
Web sites is appalling. Citizens of EU countries should in particular
be outraged, but instead there is a kind of collective ignorance that
keeps Internet users, whether from EU countries or elsewhere, from
waking up to reality.]

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 --Security Breach Exposes 20,000 Log-ins
(August 24)
A security breach at an events management company,,
has exposed sensitive personal data belong to 20,000 people, including
a large number of US government employees and contractors.  The
information was released in a spreadsheet posted to the Internet; it
contained usernames, passwords, email addresses and whether the
individual worked for a US government agency. is a
trade show management company that manages conferences, meetings and
trade shows on behalf of its customers.  The individual claiming
responsibility for the attack is said to be a supporter, but not a
member, of the infamous Anonymous organization already linked to a
myriad of break-ins to systems and applications worldwide.

 --Ukrainian Authorities Arrest Suspected Credit Card Fraud Gang
(August 22)
In a statement released on Monday, the Ukraine's security service, SBU,
said that earlier this month it arrested four people suspected of being
in a gang responsible for up to US$ 20 million in fraudulent credit card
transactions.  The four accused are alleged to have broken into the
computer systems of Ukrainian and international financial institutions
and to have stolen the information necessary to create fake credit
cards.  The SBU stated that as part of the arrests, it also seized
computer systems and equipment containing 100,000 financial records of

 --U.S. Firms Targeted In Online Sabotage Attack 
(August 23)
The FBI is investigating what appears to be an online sabotage attack
which took place last year against a number of US online firms
specializing in selling batteries online.  In total the attacks, which
happened in October 2010, have caused victims estimated financial losses
of more than US$ 600,000.  Analysis of the audit logs on the victims'
servers indicate the attacks appear to have originated from botnets
controlled by IP addresses located within Russia.  While the attacks may
have originated Russia, it is believed that they were sponsored by a US
based competitor of the victim companies looking to inflict financial

 --Email Sent To Bank Staff Reveal Contractors' Rates
(August 23)
An email inadvertently sent to 800 employees in the Royal Bank of
Scotland by a staff member of UK contracting firm, Hays, revealed the
names and contract rates of up to 3,000 contractors engaged by the bank.
Some of those contracted by the bank were shown to be charged at daily
rates of up to GBP 2,000 or US $3,270.  Hays has launched an
investigation into the breach and apologized for the incident. In a
statement the contracting firm said it "recognizes that the correct
treatment of data is of the utmost importance and we are taking the
unauthorized release of this data extremely seriously". The RBS is
ostensibly currently reviewing its relationship with Hays. 

 --Apache Warns of Denial-of-Service Attack Vulnerability
(August 24)
A warning has been issued to owners of websites powered by the Apache
webserver software of a vulnerability which can be exploited using a
relatively low number of requests directed at the server to cause a
Denial of Service condition.  A tool to exploit the vulnerability called
"Apache Killer" has been released onto the Internet.  The vulnerability
was originally identified over four years ago and impacts servers
running all versions in the 1.3 and 2.0 releases.  A patch for the
vulnerability should be released by the evening of August 26, but as
release 1.3 is no longer supported, the patch will only apply to
versions 2.0 and 2.2.

 --British Man Charged in Connection With Anonymous DDoS Attack
(August 25)
A 22-year old student named as Peter David Gibson has been charged by
British police for his alleged role in Distributed Denial of Service
attacks carried out earlier this year under the banner of the Anonymous
collective.  Gibson was one of six people arrested in April by members
of the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) for their allegedly taking
part in the DDoS attacks carried out last January against a number of
companies including MasterCard and PayPal.   Gibson was charged with
conspiracy to "do an unauthorized act in relation to a computer, with
intent to impair the operation of any computer or prevent or hinder
access to any program or data held in a computer or to impair the
operation of any such program or the reliability of such data," contrary
to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.   He is due to appear
before Westminster magistrates court in London on September 7 to face
the charges.

The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

Eugene Schultz, Ph.D., CISM, CISSP, GLSC is CTO of Emagined Security and
the author/co-author of books on Unix security, Internet security,
Windows NT/2000 security, incident response, and intrusion detection and
prevention. He was also the co-founder and original project manager of
the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC).

John Pescatore is Vice President at Gartner Inc.; he has worked in
computer and network security since 1978.

Stephen Northcutt founded the GIAC certification and is President of
STI, The Premier Skills-Based Cyber Security Graduate School,

Dr. Johannes Ullrich is Chief Technology Officer of the Internet Storm
Center and Dean of the Faculty of the graduate school at the SANS
Technology Institute.

Ed Skoudis is co-founder of Inguardians, a security research and
consulting firm, and author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker
Exploits and Incident Handling course.

William Hugh Murray is an executive consultant and trainer in
Information Assurance and Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate

Rob Lee is the curriculum lead instructor for the SANS Institute's
computer forensic courses ( and a Director
at the incident response company Mandiant.

Rohit Dhamankar is a security professional currently involved in
independent security research.

Tom Liston is a Senior Security Consultant and Malware Analyst for
Inguardians, a handler for the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center,
and co-author of the book Counter Hack Reloaded.

Dr. Eric Cole is an instructor, author and fellow with The SANS
Institute. He has written five books, including Insider Threat and he
is a founder with Secure Anchor Consulting.

Ron Dick directed the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC)
at the FBI and served as President of the InfraGard National
Members Alliance - with more than 22,000 members.

Mason Brown is one of a very small number of people in the information
security field who have held a top management position in a Fortune 50
company (Alcoa).  He is leading SANS' global initiative to improve
application security.

David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for
Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology

Mark Weatherford, Chief Security Officer, North American Electric
Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute.

Marcus J. Ranum built the first firewall for the White House and is
widely recognized as a security products designer and industry

Clint Kreitner is the founding President and CEO of The Center for
Internet Security.

Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin,

David Turley is SANS infrastructure manager and serves as production
manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.

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