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

8/12/2008
06:15 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

LinkedIn Hack Demonstrates Ease of Impersonation

Researchers channel Marcus Ranum on popular social network, duping security icon's friends, family, and colleagues

LAS VEGAS -- Black Hat USA and DefCon 16 -- A pair of researchers successfully impersonated security icon Marcus Ranum on the social networking site LinkedIn recently, even fooling Ranum’s sister into “friending” the phony Ranum profile.

The exercise, which researchers Shawn Moyer and Nathan Hamiel demonstrated here at both hacker conferences last week, was to show just how easy it really is to impersonate someone on a social networking site. The lack of authentication and validation of social networking personae, as well as a culture of often-blind trust, was the perfect recipe for a case of an online phony identity, according to Moyer and Hamiel, who showed off this and other simple hacks on popular social networking sites in their "Satan is On My Friends List: Attacking Social Networks" presentation.

Ranum -- who doesn't have a LinkedIn profile -- was on board with the experiment, so the researchers culled press releases, bios, articles, and his photo off the Web and built the phony Ranum profile on the social networking site. “We then built legitimacy quickly. There’s this weird underbelly of users that accept invitations from anybody for no reason. In social networks, friends are currency,” Moyer said. Some of these are the so-called “open networkers,” who are members of most every LinkedIn group, so Moyer and Hamiel did a Google search for several of these users to which they sent invites to link to Ranum.

They had 42 connections to the phony Ranum profile within 12 hours, and after joining several security networking communities to build in more credibility (CISO: Meaningful Metrics, ISACA, Executive Suite, Enterprise Security, Security Leaders, and BlackHat), they got connection requests from the CSO of a security firm, from a former CSO of a Fortune 100 company, and then, from Ranum’s sister, who also fell for the ploy.

The researchers said that if their phony profile had contained a link to another Website or to a new application, they would have had more success than a typical phishing attack.

LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, and HighFive are all vulnerable in some way because they’re open social networking sites. They are susceptible to threats from voluntary mashups, as well as to attacks via custom applications that members can write for their sites and for other users to deploy, the researchers said.

“Who needs vulns when you have open APIs?” Hamiel said. “You write once and own anyone. One of the cool things is that it’s centrally located... You can go rogue when you get installs. It’s malware-as-a-service.”

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-37759
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-31
A Session ID leak in the DEBUG log file in Graylog before 4.1.2 allows attackers to escalate privileges (to the access level of the leaked session ID).
CVE-2021-37760
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-31
A Session ID leak in the audit log in Graylog before 4.1.2 allows attackers to escalate privileges (to the access level of the leaked session ID).
CVE-2020-26564
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-31
ObjectPlanet Opinio before 7.15 allows XXE attacks via three steps: modify a .css file to have <!ENTITY content, create a .xml file for a generic survey template (containing a link to this .css file), and import this .xml file at the survey/admin/folderSurvey.do?action=viewImportSurvey['importFil...
CVE-2020-26565
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-31
ObjectPlanet Opinio before 7.14 allows Expression Language Injection via the admin/permissionList.do from parameter. This can be used to retrieve possibly sensitive serverInfo data.
CVE-2020-26806
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-31
admin/file.do in ObjectPlanet Opinio before 7.15 allows Unrestricted File Upload of executable JSP files, resulting in remote code execution, because filePath can have directory traversal and fileContent can be valid JSP code.