Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/11/2008
12:08 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Defcon/Black Hat: Social Network Security = Fail!

Social networks such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, and microblogging sites such as Twitter are all fertile grounds for both social engineering and technical attacks. It can get even nastier when you combine the two. Too bad we haven't learned anything about secure coding practices and proper authentication in the past 20 years or so.

Social networks such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, and microblogging sites such as Twitter are all fertile grounds for both social engineering and technical attacks. It can get even nastier when you combine the two. Too bad we haven't learned anything about secure coding practices and proper authentication in the past 20 years or so.You'd think security experts would be less susceptible to social engineering attacks, right? They'd never click on a dubious link sent to them. And they can spot phishing attacks before the e-mail even strikes their in-box. Not so fast. What happens when you combine the trust most of us implicitly provide to LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, or even to those who have signed up for Twitter, with malicious intent and a little crafty coding? Mayhem. That's what happens.

Or, at least that's what could happen, according to a presentation given by two security experts at this week's Black Hat and Defcon security conferences. Both Shawn Moyer, founder of consultancy Agura Digital Security, and Nathan Hamiel, senior security consultant for Idea Information Security and founder of the Hexagon Security Group, delivered a lively talk and demonstration on how dangerous these networks can be.

In a sneaky social engineering tactic, the researchers created a bogus Marcus Ranum (with his approval, of course) profile on LinkedIn. It wasn't too long before Marcus was getting connection requests. These requests included the security officer at a Fortune 100 company, a journalist, and CSO at a security vendor. While the team didn't exploit the connections, they very well could have leveraged this level of trust. They explained that their "fake Marcus" could very well have dispatched a link to a malicious Web site that could have downloaded a malicious application -- without ever suspecting anything. Within no time, after sending 50 connection requests, the fake Ranum account had more than 40 connections.

Scary, huh? Not as scary as the plethora of extremely simple combination social engineering and technical hacks possible on platforms such as Facebook and MySpace. And both explained how wide open the application programming interface (APIs) are on these sites, which allow unrestricted data exchange with applications and are open to what's known as cross-site scripting and other types of Web-based attacks.

As a case in point, Hamiel and Moyer demoed how easy it is to hijack a user profile; Add comments from a fake user profile to not only log out a legitimate user, but log them out each time they try to log back onto the site. Oh, yeah, they also could kick out each user that accesses the profile.

Kind of makes you wonder whether we're about to experience the same type of software-based and social-engineering attacks we've had to endure throughout the past 20 years, only with a new Web 2.0 moniker.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
New 'Nanodegree' Program Provides Hands-On Cybersecurity Training
Nicole Ferraro, Contributing Writer,  8/3/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-12777
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
A function in Combodo iTop contains a vulnerability of Broken Access Control, which allows unauthorized attacker to inject command and disclose system information.
CVE-2020-12778
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop does not validate inputted parameters, attackers can inject malicious commands and launch XSS attack.
CVE-2020-12779
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop contains a stored Cross-site Scripting vulnerability, which can be attacked by uploading file with malicious script.
CVE-2020-12780
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
A security misconfiguration exists in Combodo iTop, which can expose sensitive information.
CVE-2020-12781
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop contains a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability, attackers can execute specific commands via malicious site request forgery.