Forwarded from: Jason Coombs <jasoncat_private> Cc: Thorat_private Aloha, Tim. Rights in and liability for abandoned property is a complex subject of law. Nobody would argue that you don't have the right to perform remote system administration on abandoned property that happens to still be connected to a power source and the Internet, but a server that has been owned by a worm or an anonymous third-party attacker is not clearly abandoned. As physical property it still belongs to its legal owner. If we allow anonymous remote system administration that is allegedly benign or even beneficial to information security why shouldn't we also encourage the coding of self-replicating concept worms and viruses that exploit security vulnerabilities for the sole purpose of demonstrating that such vulnerabilities exist? Code Red was a concept worm. It did no real harm. Its spread could have educated IIS administrators as to the threat of their unpatched boxes, but it didn't. Code Red II DID result in widespread awareness of the security risk of unpatched IIS boxes because it did cause widespread harm. It's not difficult to see the slippery slope that begins with your good intentions and ends with the logical conclusion that in order to cause real security for the good of your nation and the world, you have to write malicious code that self-replicates and causes global electronic paralysis. Otherwise nobody will listen, nobody will acknowledge the threat even though you see it clearly, and nobody will act to prevent more severe penetrations before they occur. When electronic trespassing is permitted in violation of other people's reasonable legal rights under the condition that the trespasser must be attempting to do something beneficial to the security of the property in which she trespasses the entire notion of illegal electronic trespassing disappears, to be replaced with forensic arguments made by expert witnesses in front of juries. You do not want a jury of your peers to decide whether or not the prosecution's interpretation of the computer evidence is accurate or whether your defense expert witness is correct in her forensic counter-analysis that proves your innocence. This is a losing situation for you, the accused, because law enforcement will always appear to be the more credible witness. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, who are you going to believe? THORat_private or the FBI?" Advocating white hack hacker penetrations of other people's property for the purpose of remote system administration also fails the common sense test. Common sense tells us that we can defend ourselves adequately from all of our badly-configured and compromised peers simply by unplugging our computers from the network that connects us to them. If the only viable solution to the world's information security problems includes automated legalized trespassing, then the world needs brand new computer products designed from the ground up with infosec in mind. The fact that we will soon see the first generation of these systems enter the marketplace may be proof of the fundamental insecurity of existing programmable computers; though the jury is still out deliberating this point. Sincerely, Jason Coombs jasoncat_private -----Original Message----- From: owner-isnat_private [mailto:owner-isnat_private]On Behalf Of InfoSec News Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 2:17 AM To: isnat_private Subject: [ISN] Why I should have the right to kill a malicious process on your machine http://188.8.131.52/content/55/28851.html By Tim Mullen Security Focus Online Posted: 14/01/2003 Opinion - A lot has happened since my Right to Defend column in SecurityFocus Online last July, and the subsequent presentation I made at the Blackhat Security Briefings in Las Vegas. The idea has withstood a lot of criticism. To refresh, I believe you should have the right to neutralize a worm process running on someone else's infected system, if it's relentlessly attacking your network. I've even written code to demonstrate the process. Though the initial news coverage of the concept was grossly inaccurate in conveying my ideas, it has stirred up a constructive dialog. I knew my idea was controversial, but I was wrong about something-- I figured everyone in the security biz would "get it" and that the hard part would be convincing everyone else that if they can't or won't secure their machines, we as the defenders would have the right to terminate the process attacking us. It has turned out to be the opposite. TechTV's Cybercrime news magazine show did a segment about strikeback, where I talked about my goals and demo'd a couple of my neutralizing agents. Though the audience of Cybercrime is a much more generalized group of computer users and enthusiasts, the very people I thought would cry foul the loudest, I did not receive a single negative e-mail in response. Every last message was wonderfully supportive, and most of them eagerly offered assistance and asked how they could participate. It has been the "security experts" who have grouped as the opposition, some even with a level of condescension. For instance, Eugene Schultz of U.C. Berkeley's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote in an issue of SANS Newsbites that he "hoped no one would take Mr. Mullen seriously" about this technology, as if it were some joke I was playing on the community. [...] - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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