Distressed domain hosting outfit Distribute.IT and its offshoot Click n Go have been acquired by larger competitor the Netregistry Group after a systematic hack attack brought down the company’s operations.
Neither party have disclosed the sale price or customer numbers but it is clear Distribute.IT’s priority was to ensure continuity of service after the hack crippled its network last week.
The transaction is supported by domain administration agency auDA, which has been working closely with Distribute.IT management and NetRegistry through the saga.
The sale was quickly negotiated on Thursday morning. Up until late Wednesday night the Distribute.IT team was working with supporting companies such as data centre Micron21 to assist in migrating co-location clients to their facilities.
Distribute.IT recommended to clients that they move to Micron21 for continuity or resumption of services for co-location, website and email hosting.
Micron21 James Braunegg said that Distribute.IT had worked “tirelessly” for its customers. “They have done the industry proud in coming back from a crisis and we are excited to be part of the recovery effort,” he said.
Braunegg also said that Micron21 may hire some of Distribute.IT’s staff, as it is currently recruiting.
auDA confirmed that Distribute.IT had advised the organisation that its hosting services, and not its domain name services, were the target of the attack.
“Distribute.IT has also advised auDA that it does not store any credit card data in its databases or logs, and so there has been no compromise to customers’ financial data. auDA can also confirm that .au registry data has not been compromised as a result of the security attacks on Distribute IT,” it said. ®
Yet another web authentication authority has been attacked by hackers intent on minting counterfeit certificates that would allow them to spoof the authenticated pages of high-profile sites.
Israel-based StartCom, which operates StartSSL suffered a security breach that occurred last Wednesday, the company said in a tersely worded advisory. The certificate authority, which is trusted by the Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox browsers to vouch for the authenticity of sensitive websites, has suspended issuance of digital certificates and related services until further notice.
Eddy Nigg, StartCom’s CTO and COO, told The Register that the attackers targeted many of the same websites targeted during a similar breach in March against certificate authority Comodo. The hackers in the earlier attack managed to forge certificates for seven addresses, including Google mail, www.google.com, login.yahoo.com, login.skype.com, addons.mozilla.com, and Microsoft’s login.live.com.
The earlier breach touched off a frantic effort by the world’s biggest browser makers to blacklist the counterfeit credentials before the hackers could use them to create spoof websites that contained a valid cryptographic stamp validating the sites’ authenticity. It took more than a week for the fraudulent credentials to be blocked in all browsers, and even then, many widely used email programs still weren’t updated.
The hackers behind the attack on StartCom failed to obtain any certificates that would allow them to spoof websites in a similar fashion, and they were also unsuccessful in generating an intermediate certificate that would allow them to act as their own certificate authority, Nigg said in an email. The private encryption key at the heart of the company’s operations isn’t stored on a computer that’s attached to the internet, so they didn’t get their hands on that sensitive document, either, he said.
Last week’s attack is at least the fifth time an entity that issues SSL, or secure sockets layer, certificates has been targeted. In all, four of Comodo’s resellers have suffered security breaches in the past three months.
The susceptibility of CAs to hackers represents one of the many significant vulnerabilities of the SSL system, which serves as the internet’s foundation of trust. Once a CA’s root certificate is included with a browser, it can be responsible for validating tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of individual websites. That makes it impractical to remove the root certificate even if there is good reason to be wary of it.
Nigg declined to state how many certificates StartSSL has issued during its tenure, but he did say it is among the top 10 issuers. It is unclear when the CA will resume services. ®
And an old one that I missed before:
Teenage Girl Helps Anonymous Take Down Security Firm
HBGary’s nemesis is a ’16-year-old schoolgirl’
Tales of mystery and imagination
Posted in Enterprise Security, 17th March 2011 16:53 GMT
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Forbes has bagged an interview with the “teenage girl” who supposedly played a key role in hacking security firm HBGary on behalf of Anonymous.
HBGary Federal earned the enmity of the loosely knit hacker collective by threatening to expose its membership at the B-Sides security conference last month. The security consultancy unwisely publicised the planned move, which followed weeks after members of Anonymous brought down the websites of MasterCard and PayPal in an act of cyber-solidarity/vandalism (take your pick) and in support of WikiLeaks.
However before HBGary execs had the opportunity to spill the beans, Anonymous turned the tables on the small security consultancy, using a variety of website exploits and social engineering tricks to deface its website and extract HBGary’s email database, which Anonymous then released as a torrent.
These files contained all sort of embarrassing snippets, including a pitch by HBGary to run a dirty tricks campaign against WikiLeaks on behalf of the Bank of America. Worse still, the files inadvertently revealed one of HBGary’s clients – Morgan Stanley – to be a victim of the Operation Aurora attacks in 2009.
The whole episode was hugely amusing, if you weren’t involved, and high profile enough for Stephen Colbert to devote a segment of the Colbert Report show to the hack in late January. Soon afterward, HBGary Federal chief exec Aaron Barr resigned in order to draw a line under the whole unfortunate business. Colbert described Barr as a victim of the “global hacker nerd brigade”.
A key part of the hack against HBGary involved the impersonation of Barr in an exchange of emails with an IT administrator (Nokia security specialist Jussi Jaakonaho) in order to gain access to HBGary’s servers. The hacker, who used social engineering trickery to persuade Jaakonaho to drop security defences and allow in-bound connections, has since identified herself as a 16-year-old girl called Kayla in an interview with Forbes.
Kayla supposedly got into computers at the age of around 14, chiefly because her father is a software engineer. She told Forbes that she had learned the basics quickly and soon began to take an interest in computer security, which led her towards learning how to hack databases. Kayla said she then went on to hack the content management system on 4chan’s notorious /b/ channel, the web home of weird smut.
The “youngster” supposedly began hanging around this forum, the birthplace of Anonymous, before joining in on web attacks supported by the free-wheeling group. She told Forbes that her dad knows about her activities and though he “disapproves”, he hasn’t “done anything about it”.
This sounds implausible and the supposed teenager’s refusal to talk to Forbes via Skype also appears shifty. Anonymous vouches for Kayla, which is hardly convincing because the group is notorious for pranks almost as much as anything else.
“Kayla” is concerned that the authorities might catch up to her, even though she takes various precautions.
“Each night she wipes every one of her web accounts and deletes every email in her inbox,” Forbes reports. “She has no physical hard drive and boots her computer from a microSD card,” it adds.
Forbes is careful to put caveats into its story, which makes an interesting yarn if nothing else. As one point the Forbes reporter put it to her interviewee that she is in fact a mid-20s “male from New Jersey named Corey Barnhill” (AKA Xyrix). Not a bit of it, claimed Kayla, I am Xyrix.
Of course you are. How could anyone think differently? ®