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SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.

Spend five minutes per week to keep up with the high-level perspective of all the latest security news. New issues are delivered free every Tuesday and Friday.

Volume XIII - Issue #68

August 26, 2011

Surprisingly effective and innovative new security enhancements for
organizations running VMWare are being unveiled at the National
Cybersecurity Innovation Conference in DC in October.
See the Cloud and Mobile Security agenda at


US Department of Homeland Security Launches Internet Security Awareness Campaign
New Computer Worm Spreading via RDP
Online Crime Gang Steals US $13 Million in One Day
ComScore Sued Over Extensive Privacy Violations


Email Used in Phishing Attack Against RSA Published
Nokia Developer Forum Website Offline Following Security Breach
Fraudulent Google Web Certificate Discovered
Missing USB Key Results in Suspension for British Detective
Facebook Bug Bounty Program Pays Out US $40K
Effective National CERTs and ISPs Reduce Malware Infection Rates
Student Sentenced to 30 Days and Fined US $15,000

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US Department of Homeland Security Launches Internet Security Awareness Campaign. (August 26)

The US Department of Homeland Security has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in a national campaign to raise awareness on Internet security. The Stop.Think.Connect campaign will provide the Boys & Girls Club of America with tools and materials to raise Internet security awareness among the young. Commenting on the campaign President Barack Obama said "Cybersecurity is not an end unto itself; it is instead an obligation that our governments and societies must take on willingly, to ensure that innovation continues to flourish, drive markets, and improve lives."

[Editor's Note (Paller): To support the national security awareness campaign, more than a dozen states and many leading universities have banded together in a cooperative buying program to provide their hundreds of thousands of users with state of the art security awareness training, using their combined economic power to bring the cost down by more than 90%. Email if you have security awareness responsibility at a university or state or local government agency that should be allowed to be included in the cooperative program. ]

New Computer Worm Spreading via RDP (August 28)

A new computer worm dubbed Morto is infecting Windows computer systems via the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and exploiting weak system passwords. To be vulnerable the target system needs to have the RDP service enabled and the Windows administrator account configured to use a weak password such as "123", "letmein" or "password". Once infected the computer becomes part of a botnet. The SANS Internet Storm Center has noticed a large spike in the amount of RDP scan traffic. Microsoft has released details about the worm with a severity level rated as severe, its highest alert level.



Online Crime Gang Steals US $13 Million in One Day (August 26)

A security breach at a Florida based debit card processing company, Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS), resulted in criminals using cloned prepaid debit cards to withdraw US $13 million from ATMs around the world over a 24 hour period. The criminals had previously gained access to Fidelity National Information Services Inc.'s prepaid debit card database and cloned 22 cards which were sent to conspirators in different countries. At the close of business on Saturday May 5, the criminals coordinated to withdraw the money over the next 24 hours from ATMs in countries such as Greece, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. When the prepaid balance on each debit card reached its limit, the criminals remotely updated the balance on each card. It is not clear who was behind the attack, but journalist Brian Krebs, who investigated the breach in detail, said the attack has the characteristics of Russian or Easter European based criminal gangs

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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Email Used in Phishing Attack Against RSA Published (August 26)

Researchers at Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure believe they have discovered a copy of the email used in the phishing attack against RSA earlier this year. According to F-Secure's research the email was sent to four employees within RSA's parent company EMC on March 3. The email contains an Excel spreadsheet called "2011 Recruitment Plan.xls" with the body of the email simply reading "I forward this file to you for review. Please open and view it." Once the spreadsheet was opened it executed a malicious Adobe Flash object which in turn installed the Poison Ivy backdoor. The exploit used a then unknown vulnerability in Flash which Adobe has since patched.


Nokia Developer Forum Website Offline Following Security Breach (August 29)

Finnish cell phone manufacturer Nokia has taken its developer forum website offline following a security breach. The breach allowed the attacker to gain access to the personal information of forum members, including their email addresses and dates of birth. Nokia said the attacker gained access to the data using an SQL injection attack against a vulnerability in the bulletin board software used for the forum. The website remains offline while Nokia investigate the breach.


Fraudulent Google Web Certificate Discovered (August 29)

Researchers have discovered a counterfeit web certificate for * has been available on the Internet for a number of weeks. The forged certificate was issued on July 10 by DigiNotar, a certificate authority based in the Netherlands and could provide attackers with the encryption keys needed to impersonate Google services that use SSL such as Gmail. The forgery was first detected by a user in Iran leading to concerns that the forged certificate is being used to intercept emails of dissidents. Google and Mozilla have issued updates to the Chrome and Firefox browsers to block all certificates issued by DigiNotar.

[Editor's Note (Schultz): Certificates have for a long time been promoted as a way to strengthen authentication. Recent events such as theft of certificates from certificate providers whose servers have been compromised and the discovery of forged certificates are rapidly eroding confidence in certificate-based authentication, however.

Missing USB Key Results in Suspension for British Detective (August 28)

A detective constable working with the serious crime team for the Greater Manchester police force in the United Kingdom has been suspended pending an investigation after a USB key containing sensitive information was stolen from his home. The information contained on the USB stick includes the details of people who confidentially provided the Greater Manchester police with information on those involved in criminal activity such as drug dealing. The information on the USB stick was not encrypted, contrary to policy, and should not have been in the detective's home. The police have been in touch with those impacted by the breach.

Facebook Bug Bounty Program Pays Out US $40K (August 29)

Since its inception earlier this month the Facebook bug bounty program has already paid out more than US $40,000 to people who identified security vulnerabilities in the company's social networking site. In a blog post Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, said the company has "paid more than US $40,000 to security experts around the world. One person has received more than US $7,000 for 6 different issues flagged." He added that one person got US $5,000 for "one really good report". The bug bounty program only applies to the main Facebook website and not to the Facebook platform which hosts third party apps.

[Editor's Note (Schultz): Before these statistics can be meaningfully evaluated, definitions of nebulous terms such as "good" and "responsible" need to be offered. ]

Effective National CERTs and ISPs Reduce Malware Infection Rates (August 28)

Analysis by Microsoft on the data gathered from its Malicious Software Removal Tool indicates that countries with good national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and responsible ISPs show a much lower level of malware infection rates than countries with a more lax environment. By examining data from the last quarter of 2010 and looking at the number of computers cleaned per mile (CCM), or computers cleaned per 1,000, Austria recorded a value of 3.3 CCM, while Finland showed 2.3, Germany 5.3 and Japan 2.3. This compares quite favorably against the global average of 8.3. In a blog post on the topic Microsoft's Tim Raines said "Governments, the IT industry, and Internet access providers should ensure the health of consumer devices before granting them unfettered access to the Internet".


Student Sentenced to 30 Days and Fined US $15,000 (August 26)

Omar Khan, a 21 year old high school graduate, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined US $15,000 for repeatedly breaking into the computer systems of Tesoro High School in Orange County. The computer intrusions occurred in 2008 when Khan was a student at the school and broke into the systems to change his school grades and steal test papers. Khan was also ordered to serve 500 hours of community service and remain on probation for three years.


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 School.

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 Institute.

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 innovator.

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

Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin, Ireland.

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

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