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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Researchers To Launch New Tools For Search Engine Hacking

Free 'Diggity' data mining tools can identify and extract sensitive information from many popular cloud-based services

LAS VEGAS -- Def Con 20 -- Researchers this week will release new, free, search engine-based data mining tools that can identify and extract sensitive information from many popular cloud-based services, potentially enabling enterprises to identify potential security vulnerabilities before cybercriminals do. The researchers, Francis Brown and Robert Ragan of security consulting firm Stach & Liu, at the Def Con conference here will also release new techniques that use search engines to identify security vulnerabilities in software -- a process popularly known as "Google hacking" -- and to pinpoint malicious websites hosting malware.

Brown and Ragan, who have been developing and publishing their "Search Diggity" tools for two years, say they have built the industry’s largest database of search engine-exposed security vulnerabilities and threats, which is also being made available as a free tool for security professionals and researchers.

The new round of software tools can be used to identify security vulnerabilities and sensitive data not only on the enterprise’s own systems, but also on associated networks and cloud services. One of the tools, called NotInMyBackYardDiggity, enables security professionals to search all sites that may contain information about their enterprises -- including sites such as Twitter, Dropbox, PasteBin, and Google Docs.

The researchers also are releasing CloudDiggity Data Mining Tool Suite, which lets security professionals download information mined from the Internet and quickly search it for sensitive data that may be vulnerable, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords.

Another new tool called CodeSearchDiggity-Cloud Edition enables security professionals to search for vulnerabilities in open-source software code -- which is often repurposed and used in other environments – to help prevent flaws from being passed around through code reuse.

"The cloud search capabilities are the most important part of what we're releasing at Def Con," says Brown, a managing partner at Stach & Liu.

The pair will also publish PortScanDiggity, which uses Google to search the Internet by domains, host names, and IP addresses, enabling security professionals to identify open network ports that may be vulnerable to attack.

In addition, the researchers will unveil AlertDiggityDB, a database that contains vulnerabilities indexed by Google, Bing, and other search engines during the past two years. Under construction since April 2010, AlertDiggityDB is the largest repository of search engine-exposed vulnerabilities ever compiled, Brown and Ragan say.

A new Diggity Dashboard tool analyzes the more than 4 million entries in AlertDiggityDB to help security professionals graphically view their own organizations’ data and potential vulnerabilities as they are mined from the database.

"With these tools, we’re giving security professionals an opportunity to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities and exposed data before an attacker can find and exploit them," said Ragan, senior security associate at Stach & Liu. "These tools will help organizations stay one step ahead."

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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