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Perimeter

8/10/2009
05:11 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
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Social Zombies Out For Your Network, Not Brains

Last week, I took a shot at the Marines for banning social networks without waiting for the Pentagon to finish looking into the threats posed by members of our armed forces using sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Last week, I took a shot at the Marines for banning social networks without waiting for the Pentagon to finish looking into the threats posed by members of our armed forces using sites like Facebook and Twitter.I was partially defending those sites because they do provide an important communication channel to loved ones, but they also serve a darker purpose as I've stated before -- a fact made even more realistic by Kevin Johnson and Tom Eston at Defcon 17 earlier this month.

During "Social Zombies: Your Friends Want To Eat Your Brains," Kevin (senior security analyst at InGuardians) and Tom (spylogic.net) covered how social networks make money (as in selling info about you!), the ease of exploiting "trust" of targets through fake accounts, gathering information that could be used in password attacks (such as password reset mechanisms), and privacy settings that many users don't understand how to configure properly. But those topics are just the beginning.

The two also dug into attack methods performed by malware like Koobface, then demo'ed tools that leverage social networking site APIs or use the sites themselves as a command and control channel. Tom provided the first public demo of KreiosC2 by Robin Wood (a.k.a. digininja), a "proof of concept (PoC) bot that uses Twitter as its Command and Control channel." It's an impressive PoC complete with the ability to execute arbitrary commands, download files, ping hosts, and use custom language files (such as custom encoding/encrypting C&C communication). Tom has posted a demo video example of this.

Kevin demo'ed a Facebook app he created called ZombieSmiles, which he said hooks the victim's browser using BrowserRider -- a Web browser hacking framework for exploiting and remote controlling Web browsers. He said once the browser is hooked, "I have access to a ton of data through the Facebook API, including access to friends, groups, wall postings, and what apps they have installed." Facebook isn't the only target of their tools. Kevin said they could perform the same attack through MySpace, essentially breaching any sense of privacy the user had.

Starting to question whether you should let your users have access to social networks? You should be. Social Zombies is an eye-opening talk that will surprise many companies that think social networks don't pose a threat to their networks. The slides are currently available here, but I'll post an update when the video is available.

Then plan a lunch with your infosec team and sysadmins for an educational thrill ride on the dangers of social networking.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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