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RE: The legal / illegal line?
From: "Craig Wright" <cwright () bdosyd com au>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 09:31:26 +1100


Hi Chris,
I have no issue with you scanning with permission and if you can get
them to do so - great (however I would try to get a written contract -
CYA - if anything goes wrong, you are still liable for negligence if you
have not explicitly disavowed the possibility of damage).

An issue is that the system admin is not generally the legal possessor
of the site and an email from this person stating that you can go ahead
does not necessarily make the action legal (although it may go to
damages). At least with a contract form the firm, you are covered for
misrepresentation in cases where the admin oversteps his/her authority.

Next, consideration can not follow the agreement. If you have not agreed
a price in advance (or at least a method to determine one) that you can
not ask for and expect payment.

If you are going about offering services at no cost, (I would be
personally a little worried if I was the one being approached with this
proposal) good for you. It is a large risk however, and you may find
that you become liable for some web app that falls over during the scan
leaving you liable to pay the firm.

Finally, there is the issue of risk. Risk is a function of vulnerability
or an exploit condition being used by a threat to create an impact on
the firm. The chances of finding a vulnerability with a real impact to
the firm are best addressed by assessing the risk in a more formalised
manner.

Pen tests can be used to support this process, but not supplant it.
Doing the external test may help get this idea into the management of
the firm, but it is more likely that the management will now be
satisfied that they have addressed the issues and pay little concern to
the areas of real concern to the firm. Thus the effect may oft be a real
reduction of awareness.

Web page defacements (and other basic Internet focused attacks that are
the aim of a scan) have a cost and can be embarrassing; however they are
rarely the greatest cost that a firm will have to contend with. The
greatest risks are to systems that have a real impact to the firm and
need to be addressed with a view to assessing the business risk from a
material perspective, a view that is difficult if not impossible to see
from outside.

Is it really worth the risk to yourself when there is negligable gain in
many cases to the firm? Would it not be better to apply your skills to a
firm that truly seeks to address the issues? You may find some, but the
chances are smaller than when approaching with business risk in mind.

Thanks,
Craig

-----Original Message-----
From: listbounce () securityfocus com [mailto:listbounce () securityfocus com]
On Behalf Of Chris Travers
Sent: Tuesday, 6 March 2007 6:50 AM
To: Craig Wright
Cc: Barry Fawthrop; pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: The legal / illegal line?

Craig Wright wrote:
Do you have an explicit agreement with the third party?

If the answer is No, than all access is prohibited.
 
Agreed.  But those who unintentionally hide their heads in the sand
often will give you permission if asked.  My approach is:

1)  "I am concerned about...."
2)  When told that it is under control, I will usually challenge them. 
Get them a little defensive.  "How sure are you?  Is it really worth
your risk?
3)  I will usually then ask via email "so if you are sure this isn't a
problem, would it be OK with you if I take a look and check it out?  I
am pretty sure I can x, y, and z."

Then when I get the go-head, they can't say I didn't have permission.  I

asked and got it.  I just don't go outside of doing what I said I would.

I used this technique once to show a web-based software developer that I

could break into all servers with his software installed.  He didn't
believe me, so I goaded him into giving me permission.  I didn't do
anything outside the scope of the permission, but I did demo the problem

to him and he did fix it as a result...

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers

There is no license (implied or otherwise) to pen test a site unless
it
is explicitly granted. There are civil penalties at the least.

You are more likely asking if the action is criminal in nature or not
and this will vary on the act and juristiction. Without express
permission for the owner/possessor of the property, it is illegal.
Criminal and Illegal are not the same thing. All criminal activity is
illegal, though some illegal actions are not criminal.

Regards,
Craig

-----Original Message-----
From: listbounce () securityfocus com
[mailto:listbounce () securityfocus com]
On Behalf Of Barry Fawthrop
Sent: Friday, 2 March 2007 12:47 PM
To: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: The legal / illegal line?

Hi All

Curious to hear other views, where does the legal and illegal line
stand
in doing a pen test on a third party company?
Does it start at the IP Address/Port Scanning Stage or after say once
access is gained?? very vague I know


I'm also curious to hear from other external/3rd party pen-test
consultants, how they have managed to solve the problem
Where they approach a client who is convinced they have security, and
yet there is classic signs that they don't?
You know that if you did a simple pen-test you would have the evidence
to prove your point all would be mute

But from my current point that would be illegal, even if no access was
gained. (maybe I'm wrong) ??

Perhaps this is just a problem here where I am or perhaps it exists
elsewhere also?

I look forward to your input

Barry



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Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation in respect of matters arising within 
those States and Territories of Australia where such legislation exists.

DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this email and any attachments is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, you 
must not use or disclose the information. If you have received this email in error, please inform us promptly by reply 
email or by telephoning +61 2 9286 5555. Please delete the email and destroy any printed copy. 

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender. You may not rely on this message as advice 
unless it has been electronically signed by a Partner of BDO or it is subsequently confirmed by letter or fax signed by 
a Partner of BDO.

BDO accepts no liability for any damage caused by this email or its attachments due to viruses, interference, 
interception, corruption or unauthorised access.

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This List Sponsored by: Cenzic

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