Infosecurity Weekly Brief - March 16 2009

Charges
David Kernell, the hapless hacker said to have infiltrated Sarah Palin's email account and then bragged about it on a hacker forum, has been hit with three new felony charges. He pleaded not guilty to fraud, unlawful electronic transmission of material outside his home state, and attempted concealment of records to impede an FBI investigation at an arraignment last Monday. The new charges bring the total felony count facing the 20 year-old to four.

Privacy
Nearly half of the people surveyed in four Chinese cities say that they have had their personal data abused, according to regional news agency Xinhua. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released the figures after an 11-month study. The announcement is timely; according [PDF] to lawyers from the Hong Kong offices of Morrison and Foerster, the country recently passed an update to its Criminal Law that makes it illegal to sell or otherwise misuse private information. The country still doesn't have a national privacy law, however.

Some in the US are also calling for enhanced privacy legislation. Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher called for a bill to make it easier for internet users to tell what information is being held about them online.

Patches
Microsoft released its monthly patch collection, including a critical kernel flaw that could allow for remote execution. Users viewing a maliciously crafted EMF or WMF image file could be hit, said its security bulletin. The flaw affects Windows Vista, including service Pack 1, and also affects the core server profile for Windows Server 2008. It received an exploit ability rating of three, meaning that functioning exploit code is unlikely.

Symantec had to pull a patch last week after confusing thousands of customers. The company released a diagnostic patch called PIFTS.EXE that was unsigned. The Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus patch caused the company's firewall to prompt the user to allow it to connect to the internet. Spammers, quick to capitalize on the mistake, began bombarding its support forums with PIFTS-related posts, causing the anti-malware firm to begin arbitrarily deleting them. This led to widespread conspiracy theories online, and reports of malicious sites designed to capitalise on PIFTS search results.

Tools
Sunbelt Software has launched a free command line utility designed to clean up malware infected systems. VIPRE PC Rescue makes it easy to wipe infections from a nearly inoperable computer thanks to its command line status, said the company. Microsoft already has its Malicious Software Removal Tool, which does a similar job, and supports command line switches.

A new version of the L0phtCrack password cracking tool was announced last week. Version 6 will be online shortly.

Mac Hack
Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi uncovered a memory security flaw in the Mac that allows an attacker to execute a 12-byte payload. This is enough to launch wider attack on the system, he said, presenting [PPT presentation ] at the SOURCE security conference in Boston. He'll be at the Cansec West conference in Vancouver this week, and so will we. Look out for news from the show in the coming days.

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