Recent Posts

Pi Million Dollars! Google Sets $3.14 Million Pot For Pwnium 3 Contest

Google cemented its reputation as the squarest company around Monday (pun intended), offering prizes totaling Pi Million Dollars –  that’s right: $3.14159 million greenbacks – in its third annual Pwnium hacking contest, to be held at the CanSecWest conference on March 7 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Google will pay $110,000 for a browser or system level compromise delivered via a web page to a Chrome user in guest mode or logged in. The company will pay $150,000 for any compromise that delivers “device persistence” delivered via a web page, the company announced on the chromium blog.   “We believe these larger rewards reflect the additional challenge involved with tackling the security defenses of Chrome OS, compared to traditional operating systems,” wrote Chris Evans of Google’s Security Team. The announcement is part of stepped up efforts by the Mountain View company to put a premium on information about security holes affecting its products, […]

Funding Cut, Military’s List of Critical Defense Technologies Languishes

The U.S. Department of Defense is failing to adequately maintain its main reference list of vital defense technologies that should be banned from export, despite rules requiring its use and upkeep, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is “outdated and updates have ceased,” the GAO found in a report released this week. The list was intended as the DOD’s main resource for tracking sensitive technology and preventing its export to foreign nations or entities. But the government agencies charged with using the list say it is too broad and out-of-date to be of much use and have long since abandoned it. Now budget cuts to the program that maintains the list are forcing export control officials in the government to use alternative information sources and informal “networks of experts” to tell them what technologies are in need of protection, […]

Are Cyber Criminals Using Plus-Sized Malware To Fool AV?

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States. And it looks as if it may soon be a problem in malware circles, as well. After years watching malware authors pack their poison into smaller and smaller packages, one forum frequented by those seeking help with virus infections says that they’re seeing just the opposite: simple malware wrapped within obscenely large executables – in one case, over 200 megabytes. A post on the French-language web site Malekal.com on Thursday described what  may be a nascent trend towards ‘plus size’ malware executables. In at least two cases in recent days, the forum has seen evidence of Trojan Dropper programs that deposit very large files – between 16 megabytes and 200 megabytes – on infected systems. In one case, the author discovered an exploit kit that deposited a very large file – around 16 megabytes- on infected systems. In a separate incident, he […]

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 […]