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Microsoft’s Takedown of - A Gigantic Self Goal?

I will first begin this post by emphasizing that this article is entirely my personal viewpoint and not to be considered as endorsed by or a viewpoint of my employer or any other organization that I am affiliated with. Neither is this to be considered an indictment of the sterling work (which I personally value very highly) that several people in Microsoft are doing against cybercrime. Microsoft's takedown of to disrupt the Nitol botnet is partial and will, at best, have a temporary effect on the botnet itself... more

Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail Compromised - But How?

One of the bigger news stories is that of 10,000 usernames and passwords of Hotmail users were posted this past week, victims of a phishing scam... It seems unlikely to me that this would be a hack where someone would break into Hotmail's servers and access the account information that way. It is much more likely that the spammers got the information by social engineering. Why is this more likely? For one, they'd have to get past all of the firewalls and security measures that Microsoft/Hotmail have to keep intruders out. more

Thoughts About “Protection Against BIND”

Imagine my surprise upon reading a BBC article which identified ISC BIND as the top security vulnerability to UNIX systems. At ISC, we have striven for a decade to repair BIND's reputation, and by all accounts we have made great progress. "What could this be about," I wondered, as I scanned the BBC article for more details. It turns out that BBC was merely parroting what it had been told by SANS. OK, let's see what SANS has to say... more

Fight Spam With the DNS, Not the CIA

It seems like spam is in the news every day lately, and frankly, some of the proposed solutions seem either completely hare-brained or worse than the problem itself. I'd like to reiterate a relatively modest proposal I first made over a year ago: Require legitimate DNS MX records for all outbound email servers.

MX records are one component of a domain's Domain Name System (DNS) information. They identify IP addresses that accept inbound email for a particular domain name. To get mail to, say,, a mail server picks an MX record from's DNS information and attempts to deliver the mail to that IP address. If the delivery fails because a server is out of action, the delivering server may work through the domain's MX records until it finds a server that can accept the mail. Without at least one MX record, mail cannot be delivered to a domain.

Pakistan Hijacks YouTube: A Closer Look

A few hours ago, Pakistan Telecom (AS 17557) began advertising a small part of YouTube's assigned network. This story is almost as old as BGP. Old hands will recognize this as, fundamentally, the same problem as the infamous AS 7007 from 1997, a more recent ConEd mistake of early 2006 and even TTNet's Christmas Eve gift 2005. Just before 18:48 UTC, Pakistan Telecom, in response to government order to block access to YouTube, started advertising a route for to its provider... more

When Registrars Look the Other Way, Drug-Dealers Get Paid

Since November of last year we have been discussing the problem of illicit and illegal online pharmacy support by ICANN-accredited Registrars. In several articles and direct contact with the Registrars we have tirelessly tried to convey the seriousness of this problem, many listened, some did not... With the background information already known, the case presented here is much more specific and concerns EvaPharmacy, which was until recently, the world's largest online criminal pharmacy network. more

Defending Networks Against DNS Rebinding Attacks

DNS rebinding attacks are real and can be carried out in the real world. They can penetrate through browsers, Java, Flash, Adobe and can have serious implications for Web 2.0-type applications that pack more code and action onto the client. Such an attack can convert browsers into open network proxies and get around firewalls to access internal documents and services. It requires less than $100 to temporarily hijack 100,000 IP addresses for sending spam and defrauding pay-per-click advertisers. Everyone is at risk and relying on network firewalls is simply not enough. In a paper released by Stanford Security Lab, "Protecting Browsers from DNS Rebinding Attacks," authors Collin Jackson, Adam Barth, Andrew Bortz, Weidong Shao, and Dan Boneh provide ample detail about the nature of this attack as well as strong defenses that can be put in place in order to help protect modern browsers. more

EFF and Its Use of Propaganda: Could Karl Rove do better? Probably

The latest post on DearAOL's blog, by EFF activist coordinator Danny O'Brien, is titled "The Shakedown Begins". In short, Danny receives email from on an AOL mailbox -- email that he apparently paid overstock $29.95 to receive. And that email arrives with Goodmail certification that AOL recognizes and flags as such. Danny seems to think this is not the sort of email that should be certified by Goodmail, and that AOL should not suddenly turn on Goodmail certification. Suddenly? more

The Problem With Wikis

Wikis have been around for a long time on the Web. It's taken a while for them to transform from geek tool to a mainstream word, but we're here now. Last week at the ICANN Meeting in Vancouver, it was fun to watch hundreds of people get introduced to Wikis and start using them, thanks to Ray King's ICANN Wiki project. In the past few days since, I've come to believe that Wikis are doomed unless they start thinking about security in a more serious way. more

DNS Firewalls In Action - RPZ vs. Spam

In general, a network firewall is just a traffic filter... Filtering rules can be anything from "allow my web server to hear and answer web requests but not other kinds of requests" to "let my users Ping the outside world but do not let outsiders Ping anything on my network." The Internet industry has used firewalls since the mid-1980's and there are now many kinds, from packet layer firewalls to web firewalls to e-mail firewalls. Recently the DNS industry has explored the firewall idea and the results have been quite compelling. In this article I'm going to demonstrate a DNS firewall built using RPZ (Response Policy Zones) and show its potential impact on e-mail "spam". more

Moving Target: Spammer Using Over 1000 Home Computers as DNS

Some individual appears to have hijacked more than a 1,000 home computers starting in late June or early July and has been installing a new Trojan Horse program on them. The Trojan allows this person to run a number of small websites on the hijacked home computers. These websites consists of only a few web pages and apparently produce income by directing sign-ups to for-pay porn websites through affiliate programs. Spam emails messages get visitors to come to the small websites.

To make it more difficult for these websites to be shut down, a single home computer is used for only 10 minutes to host a site. After 10 minutes, the IP address of the website is changed to a different home computer... more

The Problem With HTTPS SSL Runs Deeper Than MD5

The recent research highlighting the alarming practice of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate Authority (CA) vendors using the MD5 hashing algorithm (which was known to be broken since 2005) has shown a major crack in the foundation of the Web. While the latest research has shown that fake SSL certificates with MD5 hashes can be forged to perfection when the CA (such as VeriSign's RapidSSL) uses predictable certificate fields, the bigger problem is that the web has fundamentally botched secure authentication. more

An Attack on DNS is an Attack on the Internet

On Saturday Aug 7th, DNS provider DNS Made Easy was the target of a very large denial of service attack. As far as can be determined the total traffic volume exceeded 40 Gigabit/second, enough to saturate 1 million dialup Internet lines. Several of DNS Made Easy's upstream providers had saturated backbone links themselves. There are indications that not only DNS Made Easy suffered from this attack, but the Internet as a whole. more

Paul Vixie on Fort N.O.C.‘s

I wish to correct several misstatements made by Brock Meeks in his article, "Fort N.O.C.'s", published January 20. I am speaking as an operator of the "F" root name server which was mentioned several times in this story. ..."A" root is not special in any way. Our "F" root server receives updates from an unrelated server called SRS which is operated under contract from the US Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These updates are received by all 13 root name servers, with "A" root a peer of the other 12, having no special capability or importance. If any one of these 13 servers (including "A" root) were temporarily unavailable due to a failure or disaster, there would be no noticeable impact on the Internet as a whole. more

SiteFinder vs. Engineers: Our Mistake Is Ignorance

We, as the Internet engineering community, have made a great mistake. Actually, it wasn't even one large mistake, but a series of small ones. Engineers are busy people, and most of us work under the constraints of the organizational entities we serve (be it ISPs, non-internet corporates, or even non-profits). Few of us have time for politics; even fewer have the desire and motivation for politics, and those of us who do try usually end up facing a brick wall of stubbornness, lack of understanding of the underlying technical issues, or just a deaf ear. more

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