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Big holes in net's heart revealed
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 08:32:02 -0400
Something "well known" but not advertised till now. djf
Begin forwarded message:
From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne () WARPSPEED COM>
Date: April 30, 2006 5:11:08 AM EDT
To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <dewayne-net () WARPSPEED COM>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Big holes in net's heart revealed
Reply-To: dewayne () WARPSPEED COM
Big holes in net's heart revealed
By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website
Simple attacks could let malicious hackers take over more than one-
third of the net's sites, reveals research.
The finding was uncovered by researchers who analysed how the net's
addressing system works.
They also found that if the simple attacks were combined with so-
called denial-of-service attacks, 85% of the net becomes vulnerable
The researchers recommended big changes to the net's addressing
system to tackle the vulnerability at its heart.
When you visit a website, such as news.bbc.co.uk, your computer often
asks one of the net's address books, or domain name servers, for
information about where that site resides.
But the number of computers that have to be consulted to find the
computers where that site is located often makes sites vulnerable to
attack by vandals and criminals, found Assistant Professor Emin Gun
Sirer and Venugopalan Ramasubramanian from the Department of Computer
Science at Cornell University.
Professor Sirer told the BBC News website that, on average, 46
computers holding different information about the components of net
addresses are consulted to find out where each dotcom site is
But, he said, this chain of dependencies between the computers that
look after the different parts of net addresses creates all kinds of
vulnerabilities that clever hackers could easily exploit.
"The growth of the internet has caused these dependencies to emerge,"
said Professor Sirer. "Instead of having to compromise one you can
compromise any one of the three dozen."
All the information gathered and analysed by the researchers has to
be publicly available to keep the net's addressing system working.
The research analysed information about almost 600,000 computers.
The research also revealed that 17% of the servers that host the
net's address books are vulnerable to attack via widely known exploits.
"Because of these dependencies about one-third of the net's names are
trivially compromisable by script kiddies," he said.
One site vulnerable in this way was run by the FBI, said Professor.
Sirer. Although the five computers that act as the first reference
point for the fbi.gov domain were secure, one of the five that
connect to these has yet to install a patch for a well-known bug.
That computer was fixed after the Cornell team reported its findings
to the FBI, but hundreds of thousands of sites suffer from similar
The most vulnerable net domain found by the survey was that of the
Roman Catholic Church in the Ukraine.
Criminals such as phishing gangs would be interested in re-directing
traffic from well-known sites so they can grab key login and personal
details that would help them de-fraud web users.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/28 13:58:07 GMT
Weblog at: <http://weblog.warpspeed.com>
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- Big holes in net's heart revealed David Farber (Apr 30)