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RE: FW: Legal? Road Runner proactive scanning.[Scanned]
From: "Mitchell Rowton" <mrowton () bdo com>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 12:20:27 -0500

There will always be arguments about whether or not an ISP is
ethical/legal in doing port scans on equipment they do not own or
control, especially if the sole purpose of this is to detect and record
security vulnerabilities.

What I would point out is that "testing for a relay" or "testing for an
open proxy" is completely different than scanning ports.  I think that
analogies are terrible in conversations like this because people tend to
drift away from the facts...  but here is my very bad attempt...

A building manager goes around pushing on windows and recording who
leaves theirs unlocked.  Legal?  Probably.

A building manager goes around pushing on windows to find unlocked
ones, he then tests this by climbing through the window.  Legal? 
Probably not.

I would also say that "intent" can't be left out of this
conversation.  If you send me an e-mail, does that mean you have done a
port scan on TCP 25?  When I come to work in the morning and see
thousands of port 137 scans hitting our firewall then I safely assume
that the "intent" is of a different matter.  So we can't get caught up
in definitions based only on  tcp connections (or only on some other
technical standard).

In this case road runner doesn't intend on exploiting anything.  But
the building manager doesn't intend on breaking in.  Its a fine line and
I'm not sure my comments help one way or another.  But I find any strong
or emotional argument, either for or against this topic to be
suspicious.



"Jef Feltman" <feltman () pacbell net> 03/12/04 10:22PM >>>
So if someone comes and knocks on your door at home you shoot them? Do
you
consider them a criminal? No, you lock the door and windows.

If your host is on the internet I consider it public and knocking on
the
door to see if the shop is open, is not a problem. If you do not want
people
coming in the door lock it and give a key to those who need it.

Based on your statement no website should not be accessed by anyone
other
than an employee. Sending E-Mail would be a violation also, as the port
must
be checked to verify it can be opened to receive.

Port scanning is not an attack it is probe. I have scanned many
machines
that have tried to attack my machine trying to verify if it is an
attack or
the host has been compromised. Unless the attack is currently in
progress,
the host is almost always taken over by a hacker or virus. Scanning the
host
allows me to find ports open that prove the host has been attacked and
taken
over. Then I am able to inform the ISP or user of the problem. And not
go
after some innocent user.

If a company runs a service on the internet they must place a lock on
the
door to keep out the unwanted. Otherwise it is open to the public.
Remember
there are private and public ip addresses. Public means anyone can
access
them without freely unless they harm or steal from the host, just like
the
store on the corner.

A port scan has never hurt any machine and never will. Only a poorly
configured host will be hacked. Just as a poorly locked house will be
broken
into.

jef



I would certainly consider port scanning to be an attack, based on the

intention(s) implied by such activity.
Although I am far from a security expert from a technical perspective,

it seems to me that the answer to this question lies not in technical 
arguments, but rather on determining whether one has the right to
access 
someone else's network without permission. I, for one, believe that 
noone (and no organization) has the right to access my network or any 
systems on that network without permission. Permission to access a
given 
resource does not necessarily have to be explicit (i.e accessing a 
publicly hosted web page would generally be permissible), however, 
ordinary
concepts of reasonableness (what a reasonable person 
would consider ok) certainly apply (e.g. intentionally accessing an 
accidentally accessible resource that is clearly intended to not be 
accessible would be considered improper).
I would view port scanning, regardless of the source, as improper
access 
to the network. It seems to me that a reasonable person would not 
consider it permissible for an outside entity (e.g a business 
competitor) to surrepticiously attempt (the breadth and depth of the 
access and the resources accessed without explicit permission would
help 
one determine whether the attempt.is indeed surrepticious) to access 
resources on the network.
A port scan against one or more hosts by an outside agent implies an 
attempt to find services with potential holes active on the network. 
That in, and of itself, implies that the scanner will utilize any 
information found to launch (further) attacks against specific hosts in

an attempt to gain further access to the network. As the "scanee", I
can 
only consider such access an unwanted, unauthorized intrusion with 
(likely) malicious intent.
As such, I would necessarily view port scans to be an attack (even if 
only limited) against the network.

Charlie



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