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Update: Student’s Expulsion Exposes Computer Science Culture Gap

Editor’s Note: Updated to include comment from Dawson CS Professor Simonelis. – PFR 1/22/2013 The expulsion of a  20 year-old computer science major at Dawson College in Quebec, Canada has laid bare what one expert says is a culture gap between academic computer science departments and the ‘real world’ of application development. In the wake of news stories that have drawn attention to the case, Dawson’s faculty and administration have stood by their decision, saying that “hacking” of the type Ahmed Al-Khabaz was engaged in was an example of “unprofessional conduct” by a computer sciences engineer. This, even as private sector firms – including the company whose software Al-Khabaz exposed – have come forward with job offers and scholarships. Al-Khabaz was expelled in November by a school administration that looked askance at his security audits of a student portal web site dubbed “Omnivox,” accusing him of launching “SQL injection” attacks […]

Update: Canadian Colleges Go Dark Following Expulsion of Whitehat

Editor’s Note: Updated to clarify that the sites were unreachable outside Canada, but accessible from IP addresses within that country and to add comment from Skytech on the Internet filtering. – PFR (1/22/2013) The web sites of a number of Canadian General and Vocational Colleges were unreachable from IP addresses outside Canada on Tuesday, after news spread that Dawson College, in Montreal, expelled a student who uncovered and reported security holes in a web-based student portal used at the school. The web site for Dawson College, dawsoncollege.qc.ca returned a 403 “Access Denied” message on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, along with the web sites for John Abbott College, the Collège de Maisonneuve and Cégep de Trois-Rivières. The schools all use the Omnivox software by local firm Skytech Communications to manage their student portals. The web site for Skytech Communications could not be reached either early Tuesday and returned the same 403 error. Calls […]

Making It Official

For those of you who have been regular visitors to this site over the past few months, this post might seem a bit strange.  I’m taking the opportunity today to officially launch The Security Ledger: a security news website dedicated to covering the rapidly expanding landscape of the IT security space. Yes – I know: Security Ledger has been publishing regularly since late August. But think of that kind of like one of Google’s interminable “beta” periods, in which you keep expectations low and shake out all the bugs before making it official. So what’s this all about? With help from our sponsors, Qualys Inc. and Veracode, The Security Ledger is dedicated to covering the vastly expanding cyber security landscape. As more and more elements of our daily lives join the “Internet of Things,” The Security Ledger offers original reporting and curated news from the front lines, including coverage of mobile devices, intelligent consumer […]

Does Your LinkedIn Profile Hold The Key To Your Password?

Say what you want about social media. The bare fact is that folks use it – more of them every day. In fact, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are growing – quickly – and have come to define our modern online experience. That said: the sites represent a huge security risk. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are increasingly used as platforms to circulate scams and malicious links. A larger and more nebulous threat is posed by all the information that organizations and their workers are spilling online. It’s already common knowledge that hackers and other “bad guys” comb through worker profiles or LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites to help craft targeted attacks. But could your social networking profile provide more useful information – like your password? Independent security researcher Itzik Kotler thinks so. Kotler is the creator of Pythonect, a new, experimental dataflow programming language based […]

Profile Poisoning the Next Frontier for Hackers

Google and Facebook already know everything about you – your interests, friends, tastes and even your movements. That’s already a privacy nightmare, but researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Information Security Center (GTISC) think it could soon be a security nightmare, also. Automated information systems already determine what version of the news most of us see. But researchers at Georgia Tech warn that the power of such systems to shape what each of us see online could soon become a powerful tool in the hands of sophisticated attackers, who might look for ways to manipulate victims’ online profile to steer them to certain sites, according to the report “Emerging Cyber Threats Reports 2013.” Researchers at Georgia Tech said attacks that manipulate a victim’s search history, part of their online profile, using cross-site request forgery are already technically feasible. In practice, they would allow for a kind of super-search engine […]