Common vulnerabilities expose Sara Palin, Bill O’Reilly’s Paying Fans

So again: Palin’s AOL account was hacked because it used publicly-known answers for password-retrieval questions, a common/known exploit exposed users on O’Reilly’s site, and password-reuse by users exposed their other personal accounts.

On September 19, 2008, hackers from the Anonymous collective attacked the website of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. The hackers found and immediately posted e-mail addresses, passwords, and physical addresses of 205 O’Reilly site members paying $5 a month to hear Bill’s wisdom. The next day, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack hit the site with 5,000 packets per second. That night, another attack flooded two O’Reilly servers with 1.5GB/s of data.

[…]

The attack itself wasn’t particularly clever, but it was effective. Billoreilly.com’s administrative interface was protected by a servlet that locked down access to all back-end material, but the site administrator made one small mistake: he once created a “New premium member report” showing a list of the most recent subscribers, and he created it in such a way that it bypassed the servlet. As later FBI interview notes show, this was “just an error”—but it made the new member report available outside the secure admin structure to someone who knew the location.

[…]

The attackers took the name at the top of the list, an account registered only one hour before, and used it to log into the O’Reilly site as a check of the data’s accuracy. The information was then posted to Wikileaks and discussed on 4chan. Three O’Reilly members who had used the same password on multiple other sites experienced additional fraudulent use of that information.

The article doesn’t differentiate whether the portion of Bill’s site that was hacked contained cardholder data, so I don’t know if this will be considered a breach meriting PCI DSS penalties.  But it’d be quite embarrassing for Bill if his site now has to post the  “We’ve been hacked!” banner.

via Exclusive: How the FBI investigates the hacktivities of Anonymous.

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