[ISN] Hacker helps Excite@Home toughen defenses

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 02:09:04 PDT

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    By Robert Lemos
    Special to CNET News.com 
    May 29, 2001, 5:55 p.m. PT 
    Not all hackers are bad--just ask Excite@Home.
    The company shored up its online defenses after a hacker pointed out a
    vulnerability in April that allowed access to the company's internal
    network and exposed nearly 3 million support records to the public.
    The company praised the hacker--known by the alias "Adrien Lamo"--for
    coming forward after he poked around their network.
    Lamo contacted the company nearly two months ago after he discovered a
    server that could be used by would-be attackers to get into portions
    of the Excite@Home corporate network. Among the accessible data was a
    customer support database of users, their machine configurations and
    their addresses, Excite@Home spokeswoman Londonne Corder said.
    However, no credit card information was in the database, she stressed,
    and because of Lamo's aid, no records were accessed by others. Lamo
    first found the network vulnerability in March, she said.
    The details of the breach were first reported by security site
    SecurityFocus.com, which had been contacted by Lamo.
    Lamo is "someone who tries to uncover security holes with good
    intentions--to show us where we had some security holes, so those
    could be fixed," Corder said.
    While not a first, a collaboration like Excite@Home's cooperation with
    a hacker to secure its network is rare.
    Despite the open-source movement underscoring the historic definition
    of hackers as curious--if unconventional--researchers, companies have
    been frequently leery of associating with anyone who considers
    themselves one.
    Yet, the Excite@Home network seems a bit more secure today because of
    the cooperation.
    "After meeting with Lamo, we took steps to further secure the
    corporate network by installing firewalls, restricting access to the
    network, implementing programs to prevent denial-of-service attacks,
    and adding hardware and software designed to detect and prevent
    security breaches," Corder said.
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