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Attacks/Breaches

RIM's London Riot Fallout Increases: BlackBerry Blog Hacked

Hackers take issue with RIM's cooperation with London Police. Multiple people arrested on charges of inciting others to violence via Facebook.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Teardown
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Hackers are angry that BlackBerry maker RIM has offered to help British police with their investigations into the riots that have occurred in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and other locations.

On Tuesday, the official BlackBerry blog was hacked, in response to RIM's offer to assist police by providing copies of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messages. Since BBM messages are encrypted, police would likely not otherwise be able to read the messages, which have allegedly been used by many rioters and looters to anonymously coordinate their activities.

The hack of BlackBerry blog, carried out by a hacker with the handle "TriCk - TeaMp0isoN," was accompanied by a post that threatened RIM, should it assist police: "We have access to your database which includes your employees information; e.g - Addresses, Names, Phone Numbers etc. - now if u assist the police, we _WILL_ make this information public and pass it onto rioters ... do you really want a bunch of angry youths on your employees doorsteps?"

"It's not clear at this point whether the hackers managed to post on BlackBerry's blog because of a software vulnerability, or because one of their administrators had his password cracked," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a blog post.

The relatively unsophisticated hack bears the hallmarks of recent hacktivism in the vein of LulzSec and Anonymous. (Neither has claimed credit for this hack.) Namely, the attacker likely hacked into a public-facing database that likely had known vulnerabilities, stole details of administrators, then threatened to divulge the information if demands weren't met. But the attacker didn't simply erase the BBM messages in question, or disable the BlackBerry communications infrastructure, likely because the attacker wasn't capable of doing this.

At least one member of Parliament in Britain has called on BlackBerry to implement a "BBM curfew" to make it more difficult for rioters to coordinate their activities. But neither the central government, nor police authorities, have publicly issued a similar request.

Meanwhile, at least two people were arrested on Tuesday in Scotland--where no rioting or looting has broken out--based on their Facebook posts. In Dundee, an 18-year-old man was remanded in custody on Wednesday, after appearing in court. Police said they had become "aware of a number of Facebook entries encouraging others to attend in Dundee city center with weapons to riot."

Meanwhile, police arrested a 16-year-old boy in Glasgow on similar charges. "This was in connection with the posting of a message on the social networking site Facebook, allegedly inciting others to commit acts of disorder," according to a statement released by local police. "Officers will continue to closely monitor the situation."

In other BlackBerry-related news, on Tuesday, RIM issued a security bulletin detailing a vulnerability in BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which could be remotely exploited via links in a maliciously crafted Web page to give an attacker access to the server, and potentially other network resources as well. Likewise, the vulnerability could be used to exploit servers by sending specially crafted PNG or TIFF images, and attaching them to an email message. Upon receipt of the email, the BlackBerry server would be immediately compromised. As that suggests, the vulnerability rates the maximum score (10.0) on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System severity index.

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