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Risk

8/20/2007
09:47 AM
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Whitedust Security Site Shuttered

Security portal quietly shuts down amid criticism, targeted attacks

A researcher-run security portal appears to have mysteriously pulled the plug, leaving behind only a cryptic note -- and speculation that its founders may have finally given in to industry criticism and targeted attacks.

The Whitedust Security portal had boasted free, "unbiased," and "uncut" security news, and its content also included full disclosure of vulnerabilities. But virtually all of that content was taken down last week, leaving only this note:

    With the industry and those in it so seemingly hostile to Whitedust, and pure apathy from anyone who thinks otherwise. Why bother. This site is now closed permanently. It's staff have abandoned the scene and the industry for real world projects - for good, you won't be seeing us again. You "Won".

    Good luck out there. You'll need it.

    -The Staff

Phone calls to Mark Anderson and Mark Hinge, the founders and operators of the site, were not returned, and their email addresses are no longer valid.

Some security experts say Whitedust's demise is likely the result of intense animosity toward the organization by some hard-core hacker groups. These critics argue that Anderson, who created Whitemail spam blocking software, and British security writer Hinge, aren't "true" hackers.

The discord came to a head recently with a major hack of the Whitedust site by a hacker group called Zero for Owned. "They grabbed the application's authentication files -- which included user IDs and passwords -- [and] used [them] to break into other systems, as the same passwords were used in multiple places by the Whitedust folk," notes Mark Loveless, security architect for Vernier Networks Inc.

Whitedust also took some arrows from critics of full disclosure. Signs of trouble first started to emerge in the past few weeks, when Whitedust canceled the Black & White Ball, a hacker conference it was scheduled to sponsor in London next month, citing "financial red tape and bureaucracy." The confab was to host both black hat and white hat hackers in one venue.

Anderson and Hinge earlier this year joined The Syndicate of London hacktivist group to launch a social networking site aimed at the underground hacking community called Hakspace.net , which it described as a "MySpace for hackers."

Security analysts say Whitedust's Anderson and Hinge probably decided to shut down Whitedust after the recent Zero for Owned hack and subsequent "colorful" posting in the hacking group's e-zine.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

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

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