I’d like to thank my friends over at EM Link International for pointing this out over on their Facebook page…
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Security researchers have captured 120,000 emails intended for Fortune 500 companies by exploiting a basic typo. The emails included trade secrets, business invoices, personal information about employees, network diagrams and passwords.
Researchers Peter Kim and Garrett Gee did this by buying 30 internet domains they thought people would send emails to by accident (a practice known as typosquatting).
The domain names they chose were all identical to subdomains used by Fortune 500 companies save for a missing dot.
Having purchased the domains they simply sat back and watched as users mistakenly sent them over 120,000 emails in six months.
Kim and Garrett have not identified their targets but have revealed that they were chosen from a list of 151 Fortune 500 companies they regarded as vulnerable to their variation of typosquatting. The list is jam-packed with household names like Dell, Microsoft, Halliburton, PepsiCo and Nike.
The emails they collected included some worryingly sensitive corporate information, including:
- Passwords for an IT firm’s external Cisco routers
- Precise details of the contents of a large oil company’s oil tankers
- VPN details and passwords for a system managing road tollways
The researchers also warn of how easy it would have been to turn their passive typosquatting into an even more dangerous man-in-the-middle attack. Such an attack would have allowed them to capture entire email conversations rather than just individual stray emails.
To perform a man-in-the-middle attack an attacker would simply forward copies of any emails they receive to the addresses they were supposed to go to in the first place. The forwarded emails would be modified to contain a bogus return addresses owned by the attacker.
By forwarding and modifying emails in this way the attacker establishes themselves as a silent rely between all the individuals in the conversation.
For more information go here…