Risk
1/23/2009
03:50 PM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
Commentary
50%
50%

Journalism School 'Ricochets' Spam Messages

If you get a message this weekend from RJICONTACTS as part of the Missouri School of Journalism, don't reply. It's the result of a mail server snafu.

If you get a message this weekend from RJICONTACTS as part of the Missouri School of Journalism, don't reply. It's the result of a mail server snafu.About 1:30 EST Friday afternoon, I got an e-mail from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) highlighting its latest newsletter. The message mentions an article written by Matt Thompson entitled "10 Questions Ricochet Through Journalism Circles." Being a newsman, I'm often pitched these types of articles, though I'm not a graduate and have never attended the University of Missouri. I figured I would open it later.

However, that message was soon followed by six or seven "out of the office" e-mails from subscribers and then a curious string of e-mails thanking me for my submission to USA Today, the United Nations Public Inquiries Web site, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. My colleague Tom Claburn and I reviewed the e-mail source and figured that the now dozen messages in my in-box were legitimately sent from the Missouri mail servers.

Curious about the issue, I called RJI for more info and comment. On my second pass, I got Jill Christie, director of communications, on the line. She confirmed that the school's mail server was acting up but emphatically denied that the servers were under some sort of bot attack or hacker takeover.

"We're not sure what the problem is, but it has been concentrated on our servers for the last couple of hours," Christie said, adding that the school is working with its network security provider, though she declined to state the vendor's name.

According to technology writer Etan Horowitz with the Orlando Sentinel and consumer technology writer Jeff Zbar, the message is an autobot/listserve that is siphoning off e-mail addresses and then sending them out randomly. Replying to the message only compounds the issue because a positive reply gives the autobot a chance to reharvest your e-mail.

"It looks like Missou's mail server got hacked or something and the bug got in there and past their firewall," Zbar said. "They have to clean out what is in there. It will take some time, but hopefully, this is a good lesson in protecting your PC."

Zbar also mentioned that he looked into trying to alert the recipients through a Reply All to the messages, but the e-mail's source did not contain a view-all recipients section.

The RJI staff said that they were considering posting alerts on the school's Facebook site as well as send out information in a blast from its Twitter account. You also can see some additional comments if you follow my Twitter.

On a side note, I hope to read that article by Matt Thompson. It looked good.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "I've seen worse.  Last week Tim had a dragon."
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.