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Cryptome Hacked; All Files Deleted 170

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hate-when-that-happens dept.
eldavojohn writes "Over the weekend, the whistle blowing site Cryptome was hacked and vandalized, resulting in all 54,000 files being deleted and two days worth of submissions lost. Cryptome reported that its EarthLink e-mail account was compromised in ways unknown, and once the attacker was inside there, they were able to request a new password from the administration console for Cryptome at their hosting provider, Network Solutions. Once the attacker had that password, they deleted the ~7 GB of data that Cryptome hosted in around 54,000 files. Cryptome was able to eventually restore the site, as they keep backups ready for cases like this and stated that they 'do not trust our ISP, email provider and officials to tell the truth or protect us.'"
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Cryptome Hacked; All Files Deleted

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  • Editing! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GuJiaXian (455569) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:46PM (#33800400) Homepage

    Holy cow, please edit the submissions before posting them.

    *sigh* I'll get modded down for having the nerve to ask for a baseline of professionalism, won't I?

  • ...what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blhack (921171) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:48PM (#33800422)

    The real WTF here is that

    A) Cryptome is running on Network Solutions
    B) The email associated with the account is on *earthlink* ???
    C) None of these things have been shut down.

    Seriously, doesn't cryptome host some pretty shady stuff? On the same level as wikileaks, isn't it? What the hell is going on here?

  • Hmmm. (Score:2, Redundant)

    stated that they 'do not trust our ISP, email provider and officials to tell the truth or protect us.'"

    Just like I wouldn't trust you not to pull something like this for publicity's sake, but I guess in both cases, no one will ever know, so its moot.

    • Re:Hmmm. (Score:5, Funny)

      by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:08PM (#33800612) Journal

      > no one will ever know, so its moot.

      Oh Christ don't bring 4chan into this!

    • I'd expect that if it were a publicity stunt, they might mention a possible motive. As it is, I'd probably guess it's something like a bored teenager who was too lazy to scratch some vulgarity on a bathroom wall. Had they made even a tenuous conspiracy theory I might be more interested. Interested enough to click on over to cryptome anyway.

      Not to say that obviously this isn't a publicity stunt because it could have been done more effectively.

  • by longacre (1090157) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:49PM (#33800440) Homepage
    Basically this stuff was never safe to begin with, and you're an idiot if you post anything there expecting to be anonymous.
    • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:12PM (#33800656) Journal

      and you're an idiot if you post anything there expecting to be anonymous.

      Why? If I really wanted to post something anonymously, I would set up a network of proxy SSH severs paid for with prepaid debit cards (purchased using cash), change the wireless MAC on a throwaway secondhand laptop (purchased using cash off Craigslist), walk down to the local Starbucks, access my proxy setup through Tor, and then be reasonably confident that I would be able to do anything anonymously. Of course, I would only post plain text files.

      So I don't really understand why you would be an idiot for expecting anonymity if you went to the pains of taking care of it.

      • by MadAhab (40080)

        Oh it's much easier than hiding behind 7 Boxxys.

        Have an account on your laptop that you never use anything. Have it clean your webserver - and flash - cookies on logout.

        cybercafe, post, blah blah.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Or if you really wanted to be paranoid just use a Linux that can run in RAM like Puppy with a throw away wireless card, or even just use XP and DBAN the drive afterward. Then simply go to any coffee shop and use Tor and you simply restore the OS from image (depending on the drive 10-45 minutes) and toss the wireless card in the dumpster when done. Tada! And this way if anybody did manage to come looking they would be welcome to take the laptop as all they'd find on it was your bog standard boring everyday w

          • by Nethead (1563)

            Don't forget to wipe the security cameras.

            You think they can't just find out when the pre-paid debit card was activated/used and look at the store videos?

            It's very hard to do a taxable transaction these days without it ending up on video somewhere.

            • Don't forget to wipe the security cameras.

              You think they can't just find out when the pre-paid debit card was activated/used and look at the store videos?

              It's very hard to do a taxable transaction these days without it ending up on video somewhere.

              Wear a Burqa; unless of course you're in France.

            • by NeMon'ess (160583) *

              Video backup systems don't store the feed forever. Waiting a month to use the activated cards should be enough time.

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Or if you really wanted to be paranoid just use a Linux that can run in RAM like Puppy

            Even more hardcore, pull the hard drive and use a locked-down & encrypted/proxied OpenBSD live CD along the lines of AnonymOS plus the other measures mentioned. Then torch and send to a watery grave both the laptop and the live CD in different locations. Be sure to do this all underground because of satellites/drones, avoid store/bank security cameras, don't carry a cellphone, and don't let the tinfoil hat get too tigh

      • by arth1 (260657)

        The problem is that if you post something that's supposed to be a secret, all those in know have to ask is "who knew and had the opportunity?", and take it from there.
        They don't need to trace you back, they can get you from the other end, and then the CCD showing you walking in to Starbucks with a laptop under your hand combined with your ATM withdrawals is enough to put the focus on you instead of the others.

        The only way to truly be anonymous is to keep it all in your head. Personally, I opt for the bette

      • You'll be on CCTV in Starbucks. Best to wardrive in the carpark behind.
      • by inKubus (199753)

        They would instantly have your MAC and then track down the person who you bought the laptop from who would describe you, and possibly still have some of the cash you gave them with your fingerprints. Tor is useless if they can watch both ends, and they can and are. U.S. Mail is far more secure than anything you can do on the internet...

  • Seriously, back up your data. Multiple copies in multiple locations.

    These guys were smart enough to keep backups (hopefully up-to-date backups) so this is nothing more than an annoyance to them, but if they hadn't it would be what we refer to around here as a resume-generating-event.

    If it's worth keeping, its worth backing up.

    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:54PM (#33800492) Homepage

      But they weren't smart enough to mirror submissions to other servers and so two days of submissions were lost. Those two days could easily have been the target. If so, then mission accomplished.

      • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @07:13PM (#33801378)
        Quite likely, any important submissions will be resubmitted. Not all, of course, but if I had something that I felt HAD to be leaked, I would keep leaking it until it stuck.
        • by taucross (1330311) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @07:40PM (#33801742)
          Of course the important submissions will be resubmitted. Unless the submitter died from a suicide, or heart attack.
          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            well if scientology was involved the suicide was probably carried out with a shotgun to the back of the head, twice for good measure
            • by elucido (870205) *

              well if scientology was involved the suicide was probably carried out with a shotgun to the back of the head, twice for good measure

              Why would it be scientology? While I do not put it past them, since when did they have this sort of capability?

              • Since scientology (and, indeed, any large organization) probably has at least 1 person in its member pool who is crazy enough to shoot someone if they were convinced to...

                I'm sure they're more than capable, as, again, is pretty much any large organization, but somehow I doubt even with all the paranoia around scientology that they're really killing people.

          • by Thing 1 (178996)
            Quick! Report all suicides and heart attacks around the time that this happened!
        • Laundry day (Score:4, Funny)

          by zooblethorpe (686757) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @07:42PM (#33801748)

          ...if I had something that I felt HAD to be leaked, I would keep leaking it until it stuck.

          Why am I suddenly worried for the state of your laundry?

          Cheers,

    • Seriously, back up your data. Multiple copies in multiple locations.

      These guys were smart enough to keep backups (hopefully up-to-date backups) so this is nothing more than an annoyance to them, but if they hadn't it would be what we refer to around here as a resume-generating-event.

      If it's worth keeping, its worth backing up.

      Yeah, seriously. I work at a small (10 people) company, and I still have us set up with an Ubuntu server with nightly incremental backups to a second machine, as well as weekly full backups to the second machine and the server itself that go back 6 weeks. Every month I do the same thing, and keep those for 6 months. I also backup manually to an external USB drive once every month or so.

      It took a bit of time out of my schedule to setup, but now it just goes, and damn if having backups isn't amazing. Our issu

  • Your high profile site got hacked and you blame everyone else.
    Well you did pick your ISP and email provider. Honestly folks might I suggest RackSpace? We use them and they have been great if a little expensive but you get what you pay for.

    • If the government wants to shut down a site they can probably do it. They'll just have one of their assets at earthlink or whereever handle it.

  • Not hacked! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kju (327) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:50PM (#33800454)

    The controversy about hacker vs. cracker is old and unsolved. But this case really does not warrant the use of the word "hack/hacked" under any meaning of the word whatsoever. This is a act of pure vandalism, nothing more.

    • by zzsmirkzz (974536)

      Cryptome reported that it's EarthLink e-mail account was compromised in ways unknown

      Sounds like hacking to me. The rest was exploiting the trust all providers build around your email being secure. All to pursue the end of simple vandalism.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by hedwards (940851)
      It's not unsolved, what's unsolved is the mystery of how to get people to get it right. Hacking is the generalized practice of modding things and coming up with clever technical solutions. Cracking on the other hand is applied hacking, as in applied to the practice of breaking into people's stuffs.
    • Possibly. But lets not forget that erasing all files and logs is also a good way to cover ones tracks. If the intent was to do a DoS then it was quite effective, for a while.

      Its not as difficult as many might think to breach the security of a large ISP. Ask any Red Team. The IT personnel working there is probably mired by the tribulations of just trying to keep up with the little stuff, and haven't the time to build security in. Having a security 'plan' has little effect if your forward facing defence bo

      • by azrider (918631)

        The slash and burn technique serves to cover up all sources of incriminating evidence, and better yet, hides the true motivation of the attacker unless they actually take the time to leave a message behind. You are not likely to find a trail of breadcrumbs laying around if their intent was business rather than pleasure.

        Oh, really? See The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage (by Clifford Stoll) [amazon.com].

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by azrider (918631)
          And for those who don't want to read the book, he used whatever dot matrix printers he had available. Remote syslog to a machine with WORM media works too.

          If you can't afford such writers, mount /var/log (or /var/adm depending on your system) on a remote with a different authentication with the directories as 500(-r-x------) and files as 300(--wx------) with a specific user for whichever syslog variant you use. Then chattr -i on the remote system so that the directory is immutable. On the remote system

    • Maybe the word "sacked"?

  • Hack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:52PM (#33800472) Journal

    Is a social engineering attack a hack? It sounds like someone called over to EarthLink and got an e-mail password reset. Then, once holding the e-mail account, called over to Network Solutions. This sort of thing wouldn't be difficult at all.

    • Re:Hack (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zarozarozaro (756135) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:11PM (#33800648)
      Mod parent up. A company I used to work for used Earthlink as their provider for everything (web, email, ISP). I pretty much had to take on the IT admin role there. They had lost all of their passwords and logins. I could not believe how easy it was for me to take control of everything in ONE DAY without even getting my boss on the phone with the support guy at Earthlink. Security at Earthlink is a joke. The support people there seem to choose one piece of your information at random to verify that you are the account holder. They will often ask you to tell them your password over the phone and other similar nonsense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BobMcD (601576)

      Is a social engineering attack a hack? It sounds like someone called over to EarthLink and got an e-mail password reset. Then, once holding the e-mail account, called over to Network Solutions. This sort of thing wouldn't be difficult at all.

      FYI - 'Hacking' never is, never has been, and likely never will be. The kind of amazing tricks you're imagining under that term lie within the realm of security research, espionage, etc. 'Hackers' are, by definition, hobbyists, and hobbyists are generally doing it for the love of the game, for the fun of it, etc. The guys doing the stuff that might actually amaze you are being PAID to do so. Otherwise they'd give it up and move on to something easier, until such time as nothing easier actually exists.

      • by fostware (551290)

        In short, the movie 'Hackers' bears zero resemblance on reality.

        Huh?

        The bulk of the leadup to a hack involved sifting through logs, dumpster diving, and social engineering (like the eidetic memory delivery guy or asking A/H guy what the phone number was on the label).
        The fancy graphics and the ZOMG! 486! were all Hollywood, but there were some moments the scriptwriters didn't screw up beyond recognition.

        Besides, I still own my 'Man in a pink shirt' book ^_^

        • by inKubus (199753)

          That movie is a great metaphor for the hacking scene in the 90's--a metaphor for how you might have seen it from your computer. Sure, the roller blades and VR goggles might be cheesy, but it really captures the essence of the scene, kids vs. the corporate hackers, money vs. punk liberalism. Still brings a smile to my face 10 years later.

  • If "they" have the physical machine, they own your data. You have to live with the consequences of relying on that third party. Unfortunately that is how the internet and most of society works. We hope that there are mechanisms and governing bodies in place that are trustworthy and reliable.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Yes unless you go for something like
      http://www.macminicolo.net/facility.html
      Send in x number of Mac Minis and load them with OpenBSD, Linux ect.
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        That's called colocation, and it doesn't mean shit.

        Joe random tech can yank your drive, boot with an external kernel with init=/bin/sh or whatever, do nefarious things, put it all back up, and claim a power outage or whatever.

        Unless it's sitting in your facility or your access control (locked cage with no raised floor, you have only keys) then it isn't secured.

        Unless you use full disk encryption, in which case driving in to boot your servers will get old. IPKVMs or other workarounds = keylogger = pointless.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:06PM (#33800602) Homepage

    A professional organization that knows its web presence is its life is going to have a bit better setup than a server that someone else (Network Solutions in this case) has control over. The right solution is a co-located server that is controlled exclusively by the organization. The hosting company doesn't need to have any passwords. They are also going to have their email processed by their own server and not be relying on an ISP for anything at all except connectivity.

    However, a completely amateur operation is going to use shared virtual hosting because it is cheaper and the hosting company will be doing backups for them. And controlling passwords. And all other security. Oh, and using a non-domain based email setup from an ISP.

    I guess it is pretty obvious into which category Cryptome falls, right?

    Yes, it would cost $2000 a year or more for a co-located server whereas shared virtual hosting is dirt cheap.

    • by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:32PM (#33800816)
      [A] completely amateur operation is going to use shared virtual hosting because it is cheaper and the hosting company will be doing backups for them. And controlling passwords... I guess it is pretty obvious into which category Cryptome falls, right?

      Being a non-profit organizatino, Cryptome's status as a professional organization or an amateur organization probably depends on the size of their donation base. For a website group trying to get by on a shoestring budget... well, maybe this little stunt will help them raise awareness to get the donations for a better server setup. (Not that I actually know the size of their donation base, and maybe they do have enough money for that sort of setup and they're just stingy/stupid.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c (8461)

      Using virtual hosting might be intentional. A lot of people don't particularly like them. Including agencies of the US government. By running their site on a shared box with hundreds (thousands?) of others, they're a little more protected against the infamous "just take the whole server" attack. Also, it gives them more money to allocate to bandwidth costs, which as I understand it are pretty high.

      • What makes you think the cops would care? They haven't shown much restraint in the past.
        • by c (8461)

          I said "a little more protected", not invulnerable. If it makes them think twice or is enough for a judge to hold up a warrant or, heck, it's enough to generate some publicity over it, then it's better than nothing.

          More likely, Young just doesn't give a shit. The kinds of people he's afraid of are just going to sniff his passwords from his brain through a weak point in his tinfoil hat, so why pay extra for security or reliability.

    • Or in between. We have our servers managed by our hosting company. We don't have root control, but they maintain the PCI compliance and honestly we've not had a problem in years that wasn't solved in less than 10 minutes via phone. We have RAID 5, they do back ups, but we have back ups of the db and critical files done nightly and SFTPed to a box back at the office, which is then backed up to tape once a week and every monday morning that tape is taken to a safe deposit box at our bank. Every month we pu

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        ``we've not had a problem in years that wasn't solved in less than 10 minutes via phone''

        Sounds like eagerness to solve problems via phone was one of the things that burned Cryptome here.

  • Old school (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:08PM (#33800610) Homepage Journal

    Cryptome was cool before Wikileaks made it mainstream. And John Young is the original gangsta, so you know he got backups. Bitches don't know about all the backups he has.

  • I once had an account with them, back in the 33k days. Also Erols. I guess these old services never truly die..... they just fade away.

  • by savanik (1090193) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:23PM (#33800746)

    And Cryptome is now saying that a Wired reporter contacted them [cryptome.org] after having spoken with a hacker claiming responsibility for the attack.

    Which they responded to with a threat of a subpoena, and publishing news about it before the reporter, after they told the reporter they wouldn't? ... er. Way to burn bridges, guys? Seriously, I understand free speech and using reporters as sources, but I don't think reporters are going to be too gung-ho about reporting your findings later after this.

    • by RapmasterT (787426) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:35PM (#33800862)
      Well, if someone told me they had knowledge of a person who had committed a very serious crime against ME, but were refusing to share that information with me, then I wouldn't honestly feel the slightest obligation towards them either. I'd tell them whatever they wanted to hear to get the maximum information out of them.

      AND I'd try to get that subpoena too. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but it doesn't guarantee freedom from subpoena. An ethical journalist would go to jail in contempt of court before giving up a confidential source, but since journalism has abandoned most of the principles of old, I wouldn't count on that happening.
      • and the crime against you will go unpunished

        i'm not saying that you have no right to seek out the information source about the crime against you, i'm saying your tactics suck

        what you do is you let the information source speak, and you ask the reporter for more information. you make up false reasons for why the information source is wrong, forcing the information source to prove they actually are genuine. or you keep them talking, until they make a mistake, and they reveal themselves

        you set a fire, and you s

      • by arth1 (260657)

        I'd try to get that subpoena too. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but it doesn't guarantee freedom from subpoena. An ethical journalist would go to jail in contempt of court before giving up a confidential source, but since journalism has abandoned most of the principles of old, I wouldn't count on that happening.

        This is Wired, who had no qualms ratting out the Wikileak's army informant.
        I'll be surprised if they haven't already finked on this guy too, unless it was one of their own or t

    • by russotto (537200)
      The way Young reports it, he had the conversation with Zetter and _at the end_ she asked him to not report it. He responded "sure" but didn't say what tone of voice he used. She then pointed out that he always reported interviews, so it's clear she didn't really expect him to keep it quiet. I'm not sure why Young is so pissed at Wired. Just because the vandal went and bragged to them after the fact doesn't make Wired "complicit" as he claims.
    • by siddesu (698447)

      Cryptome.org's SOP is to report on all interviews, he's been doing that for ages now.

      From the interview, even the Wired clueless bimbo was aware of this.

      Knowing the SOP before you call a site about them being defaced, and still asking for exceptions while you hide the perpetrators of the defacement doesn't come across as building bridges to me.

    • Who would have guessed? This isn't a surprise at all.

  • SSH FTW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:24PM (#33800762) Homepage Journal

    Its the only CMS I use on my servers. Mercurial for version control over ssh. Update my sites with hg push. Hooks on the receiving side to run hg up and rebuild if required. SSH can be configured to require certificates only for authentication. Desktop environments all integration with ssh-askpass or similar.

  • Well, it just goes to show you get what you pay for. From the point of view of security Colo is probably the best, but running a server on a static IP from home is likely the most cost effective. Virtual hosting is dirt cheap but worthless for any serious operation. VMs tend to be configured minimally and ISPs mash them all together using shared resources so performance is all over the place. It's pretty easy to brick an OS running in a VM due to the minimal memory configuration it is typically given.

    An

    • by phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @06:56PM (#33801160) Homepage

      Also... only 8G of data? That's it?

      how much data do you expect them to host? it's not like they store multi GB long videos of events or anything.

    • Also... only 8G of data? That's it?

      I have to appreciate that 20 years ago the same amount of data would have elicited a response more like "8G of data? What on earth are they storing that would require that much?!?"

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Well, it just goes to show you get what you pay for.

      Are you in marketing by chance? "You get what you pay for" is what somebody trying to sell crappy products at a quality price says. The fact is, you DON'T always get whet you pay for, although you usually pay for what you get.

      Any time someone tells me "you get what you pay for" I hold on to my wallet extra tightly.

  • Why not use Hotmail while you're at it.

    John Young is alleged to be paranoid as hell; no idea how something like this can happen.

  • ComputerWorld actually linked to Encyclopedia Dramatica? Yeah, this is going to go well. :)

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