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Announced: Book signing tour and requests for signed, personalized copies of Spam Nation from Brian Krebs:
Security Topics / How forums get hacked, well, most of the time...
« Last post by LowWaterMark on July 11, 2014, 12:28:31 PM »
Over the past year, a large number of the publicized forum hacking incidents have had as their root cause compromised access to forum staff or ftp account credentials.

While many people believe that most of the hacks happen because of unknown software bugs or zero-day exploits, that is simply not the case with most forum software hacks.  If you look at the major forum software packages, you will not see many updates in the last year because of some serious new exploit found in the code.  Yet, forums keep getting hacked.

As a consultant that assists forum owners with security matters, most of the hacks I've worked on were caused simply by staff members reusing passwords at multiple sites.  Then, when one of the other sites has its database compromised, the passwords recovered from there are used at other sites, often leading to additional hacked forums.  And, this just keeps going.  Passwords from that site, then in turn, are used to hack the next site...

Moderator or Admin accounts being accessed by persons unknown is much more common than people think.  So, my advice is that you tell your staff to never use the same password at more than one site.  If they have, they should change the password on your site immediately!

Also, maintain proper security over domain/ftp account passwords.  Change them whenever any staff change occurs, consultant finishes a project, or, if there's any chance that a password was communicated insecurely.

The vast majority of forum hacks could be prevented if the staff and server side passwords are simply kept unique to each site.
Security Topics / Brian Krebs new book "Spam Nation" available for pre-order
« Last post by LowWaterMark on July 09, 2014, 06:29:39 PM »

The new book by Brian Krebs looks to cover the full range of cyber criminal activities.  It's not just about spam email, if that's what you infer from the title.  It will take you deep into the workings of the cybercrime underground, which makes it well worth review.

Due out Nov. 18, 2014 - Spam Nation by Brian Krebs
Security Topics / Re: avast! forums still offline after hack
« Last post by LowWaterMark on June 13, 2014, 01:17:37 PM »
The avast! forum reopened about two hours ago. (At least that is the timing of a relauch message posted in their main section.)

The forum remains on SMF, now version 2.0.7.

Here's a view of the bottom of the index page:

Thank you to all who said they would "send me new fingers"   :P

This problem is one made solely by technical people.  People who think they know what the heck they are doing, but, are the same type who think like this.  "Let's provide people with the ability to control all their "ABC devices" via their smart phone.  Security?  Who needs security?  Who would ever try to unlock your car, fire up your home AC, delete your door lock security, shutdown your refrigerator" or anything else without actually being you?

What could possibly go wrong in hooking your entire life up to the Internet?

No one would ever abuse that... would they?
Security Topics / Re: avast! forums still offline after hack
« Last post by LowWaterMark on June 07, 2014, 04:44:35 AM »
avast! really seems to have dropped the ball on this.  There is no reason for them to have taken this long to address this situation.

We now have this update from SMF:

Yet, no word of update from avast! at all.
Security Topics / ESET Forums Hacked
« Last post by LowWaterMark on June 05, 2014, 02:46:15 PM »
Joining a long line of hacked web forums, ESET, makers of the antivirus product Nod32, has had their forum database compromised.

The following is the email message ESET has mailed to their approximately 2700 forum members:

Quote from: ESET
From: "ESET Security Forum" <noreply @>
To: (noone) @
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2014 11:30 AM
Subject: security incident on

Dear (noone),

we have been informed by our third-party forum provider that user login details of ESET Security Forum members have been compromised. At this time we have confirmed that login data (user name/email and hashed forum passwords) have been accessed. We have requested details about the incident from our provider and have launched a full-scale investigation with them. ESET Security Forum has around 2,700 registered users and the only information stored are login details: no financial or other sensitive data are affected. ESET-operated infrastructure and ESET software users were not affected in any way by this incident.

We recommend that all ESET Security Forum users change their passwords. Having different passwords for different services is a good practice: if you used your ESET Security Forum password for other services, we recommend that you also change those passwords immediately too. Some useful tips on how to create strong passwords can be found at ESET WeLiveSecurity website:

We apologize for any inconvenience.

ESET Security Forum

ESET appears to have out-sourced the hosting of their forum to a third-party.  As a no doubt paid for service, ESET should be justifiably upset that a professional hosting services company could not keep their member data secured.  One of the main reasons to out-source forum hosting is to get professionals to provide the best and most secure services possible.

The ESET forums have been hosted on IPB (IP.Board) since September, 2013.  Prior to that, ESET had their official forums hosted at Wilders Security Forums for 11 years without any hacking incidents.
Everyone says "passwords are bad."  They are insecure by design because in order to be secure, they must be complex.  If they are complex, almost no one can remember them.  So, people either dumb-down their passwords, or, record them insecurely somewhere. ("Post-it note under the keyboard" sound familiar?)

So, I decided to use biometrics in my security app.  With the latest devices having built-in fingerprint scanners, I figured that would be the idle tool.  After a long development process, I perfected my fingerprint ID system, with biometric information stored in a database on the backend authentication server.

All tests and initial implementation went great.  It worked!  People authenticate with just a touch of a finger.  So, we went live across the board.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hackers cracked their way into the server and stole the database.  That's what could and did go wrong.

The bad guys made off with 80000 customer records, which included all the digitized fingerprint scans.  And, since I made ten separate accounts while testing, the hackers have all my fingerprints.  Since I'll never have any other fingers, and therefore no new or different fingerprints, I am basically screwed - forever.

At least with passwords, if the database was stolen, I could pick new passwords in the future.  With fingerprints, I only got 10 chances to keep them secure.  And now those are gone.

Biometrics - an idea that sounds so good on the surface, but, should never be used in the real world.
Security Topics / Re: avast! forums still offline after hack
« Last post by LowWaterMark on June 03, 2014, 04:55:10 PM »
Amazingly, the avast! forums are still offline at this time.

A forum conversion should not take this long.

It makes you wonder just what is going on there.
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