June 06, 2012

And Today's Cyber Attack Award Goes to LinkedIn, as News Breaks that Users' Passwords are Now Compromised


Oh social network phenomenon LinkedIn, whatever are we going to with you? The extremely popular website that boasts 150 million users worldwide and is known for helping you to connect with colleagues and potential employers is just the latest company to be thrown into the hacking spotlight, as early this morning it was reported that the site has been penetrated by tech-savvy individuals and they have successfully gained access to approximately six and a half million passwords.

Although still not officially spoken about by the company, sources are saying that a Russian-based group is responsible for this and that although these passwords have been encrypted, with the right tools in place, they were still able to be infiltrated.

In addition to the overwhelming amount of passwords that people are now scrambling to replace, around 300,000 of these supposedly private combinations of letters, numbers and symbols have already been cracked, according to an article on Tech Now.

Dave Pack, director of LogRhythm Labs said in a statement, “Without specific details of the attack, it’s difficult to determine exactly what could have been done to help protect the sensitive data. However, most database breaches are the result of a vulnerable Web application front end being exploited utilizing SQL injection. According to our research, it is extremely common for successful attackers to utilize automated SQL injection tools such as sqlmap or Havij. Such tools leave behind a log trail on the web server which at first glance makes the attack appear complex, but also makes it easy to detect. For example, by default these tools put their own names into the User Agent (UA) String of the http requests they make. UA whitelisting/blacklisting can be utilized to ensure automated SQL injection tools are immediately identified should they be used to perform Web application reconnaissance or launch an attack.”

“In addition, these tools put quite a bit of SQL syntax into URL parameters. Most Web applications have no legitimate need for SQL in the actual URLs. Alarming on this syntax along with encoded variations will detect both automated tool usage as well as manual Web application attacks. As soon as an attacker is identified by one of these methods their IP address should be blocked, preferably in an automated fashion. Everything that is needed to identify and stop an attack of this nature is all right there in as little as a single log entry on the Web server,” he added.

In response to the attack, Ulistic issued a PSA to all LinkedIn users that advised them to change their passwords post haste in which the company stated, “LinkedIn may have a bit of an issue to deal with. They are investigating that potentially over six million password have been compromised. Ulistic recommends that you change your LinkedIn password immediately and inform both clients and associates about this potential breach.”

Security Researcher Cameron Camp of ESET, a security company, also weighed in with his opinion stating, “The difference with this hack, as opposed to many others, is that people put their REAL information about themselves professionally on the site, not just what party they plan on attending, ala Facebook and others. And every time one of your LinkedIn contacts updates their profile, you get updates from LinkedIn showing what’s happening. This has the aggregate effect of garnering a form of peer review on what you post about yourself, knowing that it is exposed potentially to those business or career contacts that have a direct impact on your life. In other words, mess with somebody’s professional profile, and you’re messing with their life, and their contacts know about it.

Stay glued to TMCNet as more developments in this story are unveiled!




Edited by Rachel Ramsey



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