Kaspersky, one of the industry's best-known antivirus and security software makers, today gave a press conference confirming that a Romanian hacker had launched an SQL injection attack on its newly implemented U.S. customer support site, exposing a potentially data-threatening vulnerability in its Website. The attacker did not publish any sensitive data, even though he could have gained access to it, Kaspersky said.
The hacker, known as "unu," claims to have launched a similar SQL injection attack on the Website of security vendor BitDefender in Portugal. "It seems Kaspersky aren't the only ones who need to secure their database. Bitdefender has the same problems," unu said in an online message. As of this posting, BitDefender had not confirmed whether unu's claims were accurate.
Roel Schouwenberg, senior antivirus researcher at Kaspersky Lab, confirmed that Romanian hackers had exploited a vulnerability in code on the Website of its U.S. support site, which had just launched on Jan. 29. Kaspersky's Romanian research team discovered the attack at around midnight on Feb. 8, and they immediately rolled the site back to an earlier version that did not have the flaw. No "real data" was stolen, although the names of some of the site's address tables were published.
"A more advanced hacker" could potentially have gained access to about 2,500 email addresses and some 25,000 activation codes that resided on a Kaspersky server, Schouwenberg said. Unu claimed that his intent was only to show the vulnerabilities and not to steal data -- a claim that seems supported by the fact that he blacked out some aspects of the attack when he published it, making it difficult for other hackers to replicate.
Unu claims that he warned Kaspersky several times about the vulnerability, but that his warnings were never acknowledged. Schouwenberg said that Kaspersky did find one email from the alleged attacker, but that it was posted only an hour before he went public with the details of the attack.
Asked if Kaspersky expects its reputation to be injured by the attack, Schouwenberg said, "Honestly speaking, yes. This is not good. It should not have happened." The flaw was discovered in some custom-built code that was written locally by a third party for the U.S. support site, not by the Moscow-based team that writes most of Kaspersky's software. "Still, something went wrong in our code-reviewing process, and we could have done more to prevent it from happening," Schouwenberg said.
Kaspersky's U.S. support site is still operating on the old, nonflawed version of its Website software; the company has hired renowned security expert David Litchfield to audit the company's site and software before it goes back online. Litchfield will also help Kaspersky determine where its code review processes went wrong, so that such vulnerabilities do not occur again, Schouwenberg said.
Unu claims that an attack on the BitDefender site provided him with access to the database containing administrators' usernames and passwords, the personal details of thousands of customers, and sales data. In addition, one table in the database contains a large number of email addresses belonging to people who subscribed to the company's newsletter, he says.
Unu did not say whether he plans to launch similar attacks on any other security vendors' sites in order to prove his point about the vulnerabilities.
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