Dropbox lets anyone log in as anyone – so check your files now!

Customers of cloud-based file storing-and-sharing company Dropbox should check on the data they've entrusted to the service, following the company's admission that it messed up its access controls for several hours.

(Updated: please see footnote below.)

Unlike the majority of data breaches we've reported on lately - where usernames and passwords were stolen, allowing attackers and miscreants to access other people's accounts illegally - Dropbox's "hack" was of a more embarrassing sort.

Apparently, Dropbox published a code update which inadvertently removed the need to authenticate. So you could log in to other people's accounts without knowing their passwords at all. (Dropbox isn't alone in having made this sort of mistake. Facebook did something similar last year, leading to Mark Zuckerberg's own fan page being hacked.)

Ouch.

One popular use of services like Dropbox is to get around the restrictions many companies put on emailing around large files. If I'm working at home and have a huge spreadsheet which I know my IT manager won't let through the email gateway, I can just upload it to Dropbox and share the resulting web link with my colleagues.

In theory, the risk of this should be no worse that me copying the file to a USB key and letting my colleagues copy it from there. (In fact, if you're not careful with USB keys, they may pose a larger risk than sharing web links, since the USB key may contain other files - such as malware - besides the spreadsheet you just saved on it.)

But the safety of a web link allowing you to share a file "through the cloud" depends very strongly on who's able to access that link. If anyone can download it, you run the risk of data leakage. And if anyone can access and modify it, you run the risk of something much worse.

Dropbox can also automatically synchronise your own files between all your various devices, such as your desktop PC, your Mac laptop and your smartphone.

In the company's own promotional video, an intrepid adventurer named Josh uses Dropbox to share and to synchronise detailed information between his numerous devices for his forthcoming safari in Africa.

That means that unauthorised access to your Dropbox data could give cybercrooks an enormous amount of information about your life, your plans and your identity. And unauthorised modification of your Dropbox data could propagate incorrect information throughout your digital world.

Dropbox did well to fix the problem within four hours, and to admit this openly on its blog.

But the "eternal beta" flavour of many cloud services - where updates and improvements are rolled out regularly and frequently to suit the service provider rather than its users - is an often-underestimated risk.

By the way, one way to improve the safety of web-based file sharing is to encrypt the files you share before you upload them. Only someone with the password will be able to decrypt those files. And if you don't have the password, you won't be able to alter their content, either.

If you're interested, Sophos has a free tool for Windows users that you can use to encrypt and compress sensitive information. You can use it for free both commercially and personally.

* Download now (direct download, no registration, Windows only)

* Learn more

Footnote. As alert Twitterer Andy Durdin points out, you can readily see if someone else has changed your Dropbox files. But you can't see if someone else has been snooping through your data.

Dropbox suggests on its blog that less than 1% of accounts were accessed during the unprotected period, and that it will contact those users in case the access was unauthorised.

If your account was accessed, be sure to ask Dropbox for a detailed log of what happened so you can find out what got stolen as well as what got changed. Unauthorised access and unauthorised modification are both bad for your digital well-being.

Follow @duckblog

Infragard Atlanta, an FBI affiliate, hacked by LulzSec

Infragard logoIn a self-titled hack attack called "F**k FBI Friday" the hacking group known as LulzSec has published details on users and associates of the non-profit organization known as Infragard.

Infragard describes itself as a non-profit focused on being an interface between the private sector and individuals with the FBI. LulzSec published 180 usernames, hashed passwords, plain text passwords, real names and email addresses.

Where did the plain text passwords come from? Considering LulzSec was able to decrypt them it would imply that the hashes were not salted, or that the salt used was stored in an insecure manner.

One interesting point to note is that not all of the users passwords were cracked... Why? Because these users likely used passwords of reasonable complexity and length. This makes brute forcing far more difficult and LulzSec couldn't be bothered to crack them.

In addition to stealing data from Infragard, LulzSec also defaced their website with a joke YouTube video and the text "LET IT FLOW YOU STUPID FBI BATTLESHIPS" in a window titled "NATO - National Agency of Tiny Origamis LOL".

Infragard Atlanta's defaced website

Aside from defacing their site and stealing their user database, they tested out the users and passwords against other services and discovered many of the members were reusing passwords on other sites - an violation of FBI/Infragard guidelines.

LulzSec singled out one of these users, Karim Hijazi, who used his Infragard password for both his personal and corporate Gmail accounts according to the hackers.

They've published a BitTorrent with what they claim are nearly 1000 of Hijazi's corporate emails and a IRC chat transcript that proclaims to be a conversation they had with him.

They also disclosed a list of personal information including his home address, mobile phone and other details.

It's hard to say when these attacks will end, but a great start would be to carefully analyze your security practices and ensure that your data is properly encrypted and to regularly scan your servers for vulnerabilities.

As for LulzSec? It appears they have declared war on one of the premier police forces in the world... Their fate remains a mystery.


Sony Europe hacked by Lebanese hacker… Again

Story updated 5-June-2011: Information on the SonyPictures.RU attack can be found at the end of the post.

By my count this is unlucky hack number 13 for Sony. A Lebanese hacker known as Idahc dumped another user database at Sony Europe containing approximately 120 usernames, passwords (plain text), mobile phone numbers, work emails and website addresses.

Snapshot of database dump on pastebin

The attacker claims that he used standard SQL injection techniques to acquire the database. I think it is fair to say it appears that Sony has not learned anything from the previous 12 attacks.

SQL injection flaw? Check. Plain text passwords? Check. People's personally identifiable information totally unprotected? Check.

Idahc tweet about Sony hackIdahc is the same attacker who targeted the Canadian Sony Ericsson site in May, 2011. In his note on pastebin he states: "I was Bored and I play the game of the year : 'hacker vs Sony'." He posted the link to pastebin with the simple note "Sony Hacked: pastebin.com/OMITTED lol."

If you are a database administrator (especially a Sony one) and want to avoid your sensitive data from ending up in the headlines I recommend you actually test your web applications for SQL vulnerabilities.

A great resource with detailed information on how to protect against SQL injection attacks is available at codeproject.com.

You can also download our free technical paper Securing Websites.

Update: In addition to the attack detailed above, the hacking group known as LulzSec has compromised SonyPictures.RU through another SQL injection flaw. No personal information was disclosed in the attack; it appears to have been designed just to continue to point out security flaws in Sony's infrastructure to create PR problems for the media giant. In the note, LulzSec left a message: "In Soviet Russia, SQL injects you..."

Pastebin of sonypictures.ru


Sony Pictures attacked again, 4.5 million records exposed

LulzSec message to SonyThe same hackers who recently attacked PBS.org have turned their attention back to Sony by releasing the latest dump of information stolen from Sony's websites.

While the information disclosed includes approximately 150,000 records, the hackers claim the databases exposed contain over 4.5 million records, at least a million of which include user information.

The data stolen includes:

  • A link to a vulnerable sonypictures.com webpage.
  • 12,500 users related to Auto Trader (Contest entrants?) including birth dates, addresses, email addresses, full names, plain text passwords, user IDs and phone numbers.
  • 21,000 IDs associated with a DB table labeled "BEAUTY_USERS" including email addresses and plain text passwords.
  • ~20,000 Sony Music coupons (out of 3.5 million in the DB).
  • Just under 18,000 emails and plain text passwords from a Seinfeld "Del Boca" sweepstakes.
  • Over 65,000 Sony Music codes.
  • Several other tables including those from Sony BMG in The Netherlands and Belgium.

The attackers, LulzSec, stated in their file titled "PRETENTIOUS PRESS STATEMENT.txt":

"SonyPictures.com was owned by a very simple SQL injection, one of the most primitive and common vulnerabilities, as we should all know by now. From a single injection, we accessed EVERYTHING. Why do you put such faith in a company that allows itself to become open to these simple attacks?"

This sounds like a broken record... Passwords and sensitive user details stored in plain text... Attackers using "a very simple SQL injection" to compromise a major media conglomerate.

Worst of all the hackers are exposing over a million people to having their accounts compromised and identities stolen simply to make a political point.

Sony passwords leakedThe take away for the average internet users is clear. Don't trust that your password is being securely stored and be sure to use a unique password for every website to limit your exposure if hacks like these occur.

I took a brief look at some of the information disclosed and many passwords used were things like "faithful", "hockey", "123456", "freddie", "123qaz" and "michael".

Companies collecting information from their customers have a duty to protect that information as well.

In addition to employing proper encryption to protect against theft or loss, companies should work with reputable penetration testers to validate their security plans.

Interested in some practical help with data security? Download our Data Security Toolkit.

Interested in encrypting your own personal files? Try out Sophos Free Encryption.


SSCC 58 – Coreflood, DSLReports, Sony, Stars and Ars Technica

Sophos Security Chet Chat logoPaul Ducklin joined me from Sydney this week as we both returned home from a long and rewarding trip to InfoSec Europe.

While the news has been dominated by the recent attack on Sony Computer Entertainment, we started off talking about the actions the US government took against the Coreflood botnet. The news was largely positive, but it does allow broadened powers for the police that include actions some feel could further harm the victims.

When the topic of DSLReports, Sony and other data leakage incidents came up, our conclusions were ultimately in alignment. While these incidents are important and may draw our attention to the problem, these losses are only a small part of what Paul likes to call the "death of a million cuts."

On the topic of the supposed "Stars" virus, which Iran claims is a second stage Stuxnet virus, the conclusion was the same. Even if this "Stars" virus is real, and is a concern for Iran, in the meantime the rest of us are being hit with a barrage of cyber-crap that is having real impact on our lives.

No story is complete without some comment on Facebook and Chet Chat 58 is no exception. Aside from the usual list of attacks and scams, it appears that their DMCA takedown process and other pieces of their self-defense mechanisms are easily manipulated. Ars Technica's Facebook page was arbitrarily deleted this week based on a DMCA claim that no one has yet been able to explain.

If you prefer a news summary for the week in text format, visit the Sophos Security News and Trends for the latest selected hot topics or subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Sophos eNews.

(28 April 2011, duration 18:37 minutes, size 12.6MBytes)

You can also download this podcast directly in MP3 format: Sophos Security Chet Chat 58.