[ISN] Newsbytes hack tries to embarrass The Register

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Aug 17 2001 - 05:23:59 PDT

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    By Thomas C Greene in Washington
    Posted: 17/08/2001 at 11:20 GMT
    The Washington Post's tech-news repeater Newsbytes has implied that we
    were talking bollocks when we revealed several credit card hacks in a
    recent story entitled Hacking IIS -- how sweet it is"
    In that piece we claimed -- on the basis of something called evidence
    -- that StrawberryNet.com http://secure.strawberrynet.com; mWave.com
    http://direct.mwave.com; and Stic.net http://www.stic.net had been
    hacked by means of the IIS folder traversal vulnerability
    In hopes of catching us with our trousers down, Newsbytes copy drone
    Brian McWilliams hastily ran up a little would-be exposť
    http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/169018.html challenging our accuracy
    on the strength of his conversations with the victim companies, all of
    whom predictably denied being hacked.
    Of course we've seen the victims of CC hacks deny it endlessly in the
    face of withering evidence, as Egghead did
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/18547.html, and as Amazon
    did http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/17387.html. We
    consider it an occupational hazard.
    In this case Newsbytes dutifully rang the managers of the victimized
    companies and allowed them to claim that they have no knowledge of a
    hack. This, of course, is less than conducive to solid newsgathering;
    there's often a sort of 'selective ignorance' at play in such
    circumstances, we've found.
    And get this: Newsbytes performed a "scan" of some sort which
    indicated, to McWilliams' satisfaction, that none of the sites in
    question was vulnerable.
    "A scan performed by Newsbytes today revealed that none of the three
    firms are (sic) currently vulnerable to the exploit which enabled
    variants of the Code Red Worm to infect thousands of Web sites,"
    McWilliams writes.
    Perhaps McWilliams doesn't understand that Code Red exploits the .ida
    buffer overflow vulnerability, not the IIS folder traversal
    vulnerability, which we claimed had been used against the sites in
    question. A minor detail, perhaps, depending on the power of that
    "scan" he claims to have performed.
    We, on the other hand, ran the standard folder traversal exploit on
    all the sites, and found, at press time, that two had since patched
    against it, while one remained wide open, though it did manage to get
    itself patched within four hours of our story's appearance.
    We didn't mention it at the time because we knew the system was open
    and didn't want that tiny minority of our beloved readers whom we
    don't fully trust to screw them. But since it's now fixed, we'll tell
    you that it was mWave, and that we had a nice look at the contents of
    their C drive, and managed to call cmd.exe to boot.
    As for Strawberrynet, we reckon they'd prefer that we don't ring their
    customers, whose names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers
    and expiration dates we've seen, to confirm that they've made
    purchases there. But if Brian McWilliams insists, we'll just have to,
    we suppose, in spite of the alarm it might cause them. Of course that
    would be a terrible embarrassment for the company, so prudence demands
    that we only go as far as McWilliams pushes us.
    And as for Stic.net, we've seen their customer accounts, and we know
    how much their staff earn. We'd hate like hell to have to publish that
    data, so we hope for their sake that Brian McWilliams won't force our
    hand. Of course we'll do whatever we must to demonstrate our veracity.
    "For them (The Reg?) to blaspheme us and put our customers at risk
    like that, well, this old boy and I can go out behind the barn real
    easy," said David Robertson, president of Stic.net," to Newsbytes'
    Yeah, we spoke with Robertson too, and he was falling all over himself
    denying the hack, ringing us every hour on the hour for a time. We've
    since learned that he's owned the hack, and even apologized to
    CardCops, the organization which first brought his troubles to our
    He's become immensely harder for us to contact since then. For a guy
    who seemed to have our phone number memorized, he's gone suspiciously
    quiet of late. He's since neglected to answer our e-mail and our phone
    But he'll talk to twinkie journos who have absolutely no evidence with
    which to refute him -- or us, for that matter.
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