July 2010

The List Of A 100 Million Facebook Usernames.

By now you’ve probably all heard about the security researcher Ron Bowes, who wrote a script to grab the list of usernames from Facebook’s public directly. You probably also know that the torrent containing all these unique usernames is available as a torrent to download.

You may not know though that at present, on just one torrent site there are currently 4248 people who have downloaded this list, and that there’s a further 8141 currently downloading this list, that’s a hell of a lot of people that are interested in complete strangers personal information and lives.

Let me just set the record straight here as there are quite a few rumors on the Internet at the moment, this was NOT a hack people. The information is publicly available, via Facebook’s directory page. Some say that the users are to blame for not setting their privacy settings securely, others say that Facebook’s convoluted way of implementing user security settings is too complicated for most common users. Me, personally, I’m a member of the latter camp, security settings should be easy for users to apply, not difficult, a simple “Security Yes/No” would be sufficient for most users.

The social engineering possibilities that you could use this list for are just amazing, and you never know when it may come in handy, or is that just me?
Anyway, what’s done is done now.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you want the torrent, well, that can be found right about here, here, or on pretty much any torrent site at the moment, please remember though, if you do download it………..please seed.

REVIEW: “The Myths of Security”, John Viega

BKMTHSEC.RVW   20091221

“The Myths of Security”, John Viega, 2009, 978-0-596-52302-2, U$29.99/C$37.99
%A   John Viega viega@list.org
%C   103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA   95472
%D   2009
%G   978-0-596-52302-2 0-596-52302-5
%I   O’Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O   U$29.99/C$37.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@ora.com
%O  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596523025/robsladesinterne
%O   http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596523025/robsladesin03-20
%O   Audience i Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P   238 p.
%T   “The Myths of Security”

The foreword states that McAfee does a much, much better job of security than other companies.  The preface states that computer security is difficult, that people, particularly computer users, are uninformed about computer security, and that McAfee does a much better job of security than other companies.  The author also notes that it is much more fun to write a book that is simply a collection of your opinions than one which requires work and technical accuracy.

The are forty-eight “chapters” in the book, most only two or three pages long.  As you read through them, you will start to notice that they are not about information security in general, but concentrate very heavily on the antivirus (AV) field.

After an initial point that most technology has a poor user interface, a few more essays list some online dangers.  Viega goes on to note a number of security tools which he does not use, himself.  He then argues unconvincingly that free antivirus software is not a good
thing, unclearly that Google is evil, and incompletely that AV software doesn’t work.  (I’ve been working in the antivirus research field for a lot longer than the author, and I’m certainly very aware that there are problems with all forms of AV: but there are more forms of AV in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy.  By the way, John, Fred Cohen listed all the major forms of AV technology more than twenty-*five* years ago.)  The author subsequently jumps from this careless technical assessment to a very deeply technical discussion of the type of hashing or searching algorithms that AV companies should be using.  And thence to semi-technical (but highly opinionated) pieces on how disclosure, or HTTPS, or CAPTCHA, or VPNs have potential problems and therefore should be destroyed.  Eventually all pretence at analysis runs out, and some of the items dwindle down to three or four paragraphs of feelings.

For those with extensive backgrounds in the security field, this work might have value.  Not that you’ll learn anything, but that the biases presented may run counter to your own, and provide a foil to test your own positions.  However, those who are not professionals in the field might be well to avoid it, lest they become mythinformed.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2009    BKMTHSEC.RVW   20091221

Sophos Free Tool To Detect The Windows Shortcut Exploit (.lnk)

The friendly guys over at Sophos have been kind enough to release a protection tool to protect against the now famous Microsoft LNK 0-day vulnerability. Someone had to do it, it’s a shame it wasn’t Microsoft, but hey.
What this tool does is to replace the current Microsoft icon handler with the Sophos one, so it will check all shortcut (LNK) files before allowing them to run, what’s even nicer is that this tool is free, and you can download it from here.

Please note though that this tool does not protect you from  LNK files or targets stored on the local disk or PIF based exploits.

There’s also a video of the tool in action, which you can find on YouTube here.