Attacks/Breaches
6/26/2012
09:45 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

LinkedIn Password Breach: 9 Facts Key To Lawsuit

LinkedIn's privacy policy promised users "industry standard protocols and technology," but a class action lawsuit claims LinkedIn failed to deliver. Take a closer look at the security issues.

Did LinkedIn fail to follow "industry standard" information security practices? That's the charge leveled against the business-oriented social networking site in a class action lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Interestingly, the lawsuit doesn't reference any existing U.S. regulation or law that would have required LinkedIn to meet industry standards for security. Instead, the lawsuit points to LinkedIn's privacy policy, which promises users that "personal information you provide will be secured in accordance with industry standards and technology." Another part of that policy likewise promises to use "industry standard protocols and technology."

With that in mind, here are nine facts related to LinkedIn and the question of "industry standard" security practices:

1. Breach Facts Remain Scarce
Here's what's known about the breach: hashes for 6.5 million LinkedIn users' passwords were uploaded to a hacking forum earlier this month by a hacker who requested help with cracking the passwords. Interestingly, no easy passwords appeared to be part of the upload, and there were no duplicates, suggesting that the attacker had already cracked those and edited down the list of uploaded passwords.

In light of those facts, Tal Be'ery, the Web security research team leader at Imperva's Application Defense Center, thinks that the number of breached accounts is at least 10 million.

[ Are legislators' efforts to craft breach notification standards a waste of time? Read Senators Float National Data Breach Law, Take Four. ]

2. Don't Expect Class Action Lawsuit To Succeed
But did LinkedIn's customers suffer damages due to the data breach? Furthermore, can consumers sue a private business based on its privacy policy--which is policed by the Federal Trade Commission--and questions of whether "industry standard" protocols were used? "I think it might be a difficult legal case," said Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure Labs. "In the court of public opinion? It's a different story."

3. Data Breaches Can Be Difficult To Detect
At this point, LinkedIn has yet to provide any details about how many accounts were affected, or how the attacker managed to grab a password database--or databases--containing information on millions of accounts. It appears that LinkedIn didn't know that it had been hacked until the passwords showed up on the password-cracking forum. That's led to charges that LinkedIn's security practices weren't sufficiently robust. For comparison's sake, however, FBI officials have said that in the course of cybercrime investigations, they often turn up evidence that businesses have been breached, but remained unaware of that breach until the bureau informed them.

4. "Standard" Security Approaches Are Often Weak
Of course, what that suggests is that many businesses' standard approaches to information security involve poor standards. Oftentimes lacking are specific processes for avoiding and dealing with data breaches, although a recent study did find that businesses in the United States are getting better at handling breaches.

5. No Business Is 100% Breach-Proof
Even with the most advanced security program, however, experts say that data breaches should always be treated as a "when, not if" proposition. "If an adversary wants to get into your network, they're going to do it--it doesn't matter how much technology you use. Eventually you're going to lose," said Jerry Johnson, CIO at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, speaking via phone. Of course, the LinkedIn breach could also have been caused by a trusted insider, against which many security defenses simply wouldn't work.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Mark532010
50%
50%
Mark532010,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2012 | 8:33:32 PM
re: LinkedIn Password Breach: 9 Facts Key To Lawsuit
It is still early in the process and I don't think LinkedIn has revealed many details yet but my guess is that they followed the classic management fallacy of too much "world class security" worries and too little worries about the mundane practical details that are the root cause of most breakins...Default passwords, unpatched servers, unwatched security consoles, unknown services running, elevated rights, unwatched file changes, etc. Its not sexy and the "World class experts" don't spend much time down there but that's where most of these problems are allowed to happen.
Number 6
50%
50%
Number 6,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2012 | 4:08:57 PM
re: LinkedIn Password Breach: 9 Facts Key To Lawsuit
RE #8 and 9- Another question is what the bad guys can do once they have the passwords.

This is like the identify theft problem where a bad guy with a name, birthdate, and social security number can get a credit card. The focus has been on protecting those 3 pieces of data but NOT on how easily they can use the data to get a credit card.

Really secure sites check IP addresses and ask for additional verification if the logon is from a new location.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3409
Published: 2014-10-25
The Ethernet Connectivity Fault Management (CFM) handling feature in Cisco IOS 12.2(33)SRE9a and earlier and IOS XE 3.13S and earlier allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (device reload) via malformed CFM packets, aka Bug ID CSCuq93406.

CVE-2014-4620
Published: 2014-10-25
The EMC NetWorker Module for MEDITECH (aka NMMEDI) 3.0 build 87 through 90, when EMC RecoverPoint and Plink are used, stores cleartext RecoverPoint Appliance credentials in nsrmedisv.raw log files, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading these files.

CVE-2014-4623
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar 6.0.x, 6.1.x, and 7.0.x in Avamar Data Store (ADS) GEN4(S) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE), when Password Hardening before 2.0.0.4 is enabled, uses UNIX DES crypt for password hashing, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to obtain cleartext passwords via a brute-force a...

CVE-2014-4624
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar Data Store (ADS) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) 6.x and 7.0.x through 7.0.2-43 do not require authentication for Java API calls, which allows remote attackers to discover grid MCUser and GSAN passwords via a crafted call.

CVE-2014-6151
Published: 2014-10-25
CRLF injection vulnerability in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.2.x allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via unspecified vectors.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.