The Risks Digest

The RISKS Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Volume 16 Issue 84

Fri 24 February 1995


o Old manuals, new features = security holes
Christopher Klaus
o Software Firm is Victim of Virus
Timothy Hunt
o National Cryptography Policy: Call for Input and Public Meeting
Herb Lin
o CapAccess compromised
Mich Kabay
o Major file corruptions
Charles M. Preston
o Compact fluorescent lights
Edward S Suffern
o EU office distributes Galicia virus
Klaus Brunnstein
o Call for Papers, Risks in End-User Computing, HICSS '86
Ray Panko
o Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Old manuals, new features = security holes

Christopher Klaus <>
Wed, 22 Feb 1995 17:03:38 +1494730 (PST)
Many vendors' man pages, books, and magazine articles dealing with setting
up an anonymous FTP server recommend something that is a possible security
vulnerability.  The security flaw is a result of old manual pages and new
features being added to ftpd.  They recommend the following:

          Make the home directory owned by ``ftp'' and unwritable
          by anyone.

A new feature added to many ftpd servers is "SITE CHMOD" -- which allows you
to change the permissions on a directory.  If the main directory is owned by
ftp, then an anonymous ftp user can SITE CHMOD the main directory from
unwriteable to writeable.  Once this has happened, they can add certian
files to the main directory that would allow them shell access to the ftp
account, thus to further compromise the system.

Many sites keep their incoming directory un-readable so that the
administrator has a chance to verify files before allowing others to grab
them.  An intruder could undo all these permissions and even trojan existing
ftp files.

To fix these problems, make sure the home directory is owned by root and
that all files and directories are not owned by ftp.  Unless you want
anonymous ftp to be able to modify what is on your ftp server.

For other security concerns, I have written a Anonymous Security FTP FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions) that is available by sending mail to with "send Index" in the subject or body of the message.

Internet Security Systems, Inc.     Computer Security Consulting
2000 Miller Court West, Norcross, GA 30071

Software Firm is Victim of Virus

"Timothy Hunt [Assistant Unix Systems Manager]" <>
Thu, 23 Feb 95 09:41:20 +0000
[seen in The Guardian, 23rd February 1995, p9]

More than 200 software developers may have had their computers infected by a
virus after Microsoft, the world's leading software developer, gave them
infected disks at a seminar in London.  Microsoft said yesterday the company
that copied the disks for it had also been responsible for carrying out
virus checks, and had been sacked because it had ``cut corners.''  A
spokeswoman said a developer spotted the virus after the seminar.  ``We
immediately telephoned all the developers who attended and warned them,''
she said.  Microsoft had also written to them all and apologised.  It is
believed only a few disks contained the virus.

Timothy J. Hunt, The Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden NHS Trust,
Downs Road, Sutton, Surrey, England SM2 5PT +44 (0)181 642 6011 x3312

National Cryptography Policy: Call for Input and Public Meeting

Thu, 23 Feb 95 13:16:00 EST
   [This is a follow-up from Herb Lin on his message in RISKS-16.63.  PGN]

               National Policy and Cryptography:
              A Call for Input and Public Meeting

  Over the past few years, few topics have provoked as much debate
  as the appropriate role of government as it relates to cryptography.
  What is clear is that cryptography is critical to a wide range of
  important civilian and military applications involving sensitive or
  classified information that must be protected from unauthorized
  disclosure and/or alteration.  National cryptography policy --
  however it is construed -- has important implications for future U.S.
  economic competitiveness, national security, law enforcement
  interests, and the protection of the rights of individual U.S. citizens.
  In an attempt to clarify some of the issues involved, the U.S.
  Congress asked the National Research Council to undertake a
  comprehensive study on cryptographic technologies and national
  cryptography policy.  This study began in late 1994.

  The study seeks broad input from stakeholders affected by national
  cryptography policy.  Thus, the study committee invites interested
  parties to answer the following question:

        How, if at all, will new telecommunications
        technology, such as encryption, make it easier to
        protect and/or compromise the interests of the
        relevant constituencies?  Some of the constituencies
        might include individual citizens, organizations in
        national security and law enforcement, high
        technology businesses, business in general, and
        non-profit and/or public service enterprises such as
        health care and education.

        Please use as the standard of comparison the ease
        today of compromising or protecting these interests.
        We are interested in scenarios involving both
        individual users and large-scale impact.  Please be
        sure to tell us the interests you believe are at stake.
        (If your input involves classified or sensitive
        information, contact us to make appropriate

  All responses received by e-mail or U.S. mail prior to June 30,
  1995 will be reviewed by the study committee.  In addition, the
  committee will sponsor a public session to receive oral input on
  Friday, April 14, 1995, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, at the Lecture Room
  of the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue
  NW, Washington, DC  20418.  (No public parking is available.)  In
  the interests of hearing the maximum number of people, speakers
  will be limited to a statement of 6 minutes each.  Anyone who
  wishes to give oral testimony should submit their request
  along with their response to the above question.  (If you plan
  only to attend, please inform us as well.)  Ground rules for oral
  presentation and/or a more detailed description of the study and its
  charge is available upon request to CRYPTO@NAS.EDU.

  This is your opportunity to make your voice heard on this important
  subject.   One way or another, cryptography policy does affect you.
  This study is expected to help shape Congressional and
  Administration views on national cryptography policy, and the
  operative question to you is the following: Should this study take
  your views into account?  We hope you answer that question in the

  Cryptography Project
  Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
  National Research Council
  Mail Stop HA-560
  2101 Constitution Avenue, NW
  Washington, DC  20418

CapAccess compromised

"Mich Kabay [NCSA Sys_Op]" <>
16 Feb 95 08:00:04 EST
The Washington Post news wire BYTES column for 95.02.13
(via CompuServe's Executive News Service) reports that the Washington, DC
Internet provider, CapAccess, has been compromised by criminal hackers.

The 12,000 users are at risk of impersonation because someone installed
"software that stole users' IDs and passwords."

The attack was apparently discovered only when CapAccess officials were
informed by anonymous e-mail apologizing for the trick.

M.E.Kabay,Ph.D., Director of Education, Natl Computer Security Assn
(Carlisle, PA); Mgmt Consultant, LGS Group Inc. (Montreal, QC)

Major file corruptions

Charles M. Preston <>
Thu, 23 Feb 1995 10:24:47 +0900
I would like to describe a strange case of file corruption on one of the
largest on-line service providers that cost me a day's work and a lot of
experimentation to chase down.

Several months ago I used a reliable program with error detection and
"auto downloaded" several megabytes of programs and text  files.

Most of the files were compressed with PKZIP.  After getting a
warning from PKUNZIP about a file being corrupt, I checked all the rest,
about 15, using PKUNZIP -t.  All the files but one were corrupt.

I've downloaded many megabytes and thousands of dollars of files from the
service, without this problem.  Thinking it was my ..serial port..hard drive protocol..modem..virus.. or the particular directory (security
associated) that had a lot of corrupt files, I changed all the software
and hardware a piece at a time.  Hours of downloads later, there was only
one constant, and it was the on-line service.

I determined it wasn't the files as stored on their hard drive, since I
could eventually get a good copy of most files.  On the corrupt ones,
checksums matched over 2,3 or 4 copies downloaded with different computers
and error-detection schemes, including Ymodem, xmodem, and Kermit.  This
service has a checksum command to match an already downloaded file and
prevent duplicate downloads, and it matched the files (corrupt) still there
with the files (corrupt) already on my hard drive.

I called support, and they admitted they were having a very odd problem with
one of their machines, probably the one with my corrupted files on it.

Two days later, no file corruption.  Two weeks later, another batch of the same
type of corruption problem.  None since then.

With some types of files this kind of corruption would not have been
obvious for what it was - the 32 bit PKZIP checksum saved the day, and
made it easier to determine the real culprit.

What type of problem, other than malicious programming, could cause these

Charles Preston  Information Integrity

Charles M. Preston  Information Integrity

Compact fluorescent lights

Edward S Suffern <Suffern@DOCKMASTER.NCSC.MIL>
Thu, 23 Feb 95 17:27 EST
For the last few months, I have experienced intermittent problems with the
infrared remote controls for my TV, VCR, and stereo.  The symptoms were
difficulty activating the remote buttons, search operations continuing after
they should have stopped, and, very occasionally, spontaneous channel changes.
More recently, a friend's TV totally locked up as if one of the buttons was
stuck in the activated position.

New batteries had no effect.  Disassembly of remotes found nothing. I even
disassembled the friend's TV found nothing until I noticed it would work fine
on the test bench but not in its normal installed location.  This lead me to
correlate the problem with the recent installation of energy saving compact
fluorescent light bulbs.  Further testing proved conclusively that all of my
infrared remote receivers were adversely affected by these lights.

The lights in question were manufactured by Lights of America (Models 2004 and
2030TP) but I expect other manufacturers may have the same problem.  The bulbs
advertise a tri-phosphor that produces a soft white light quality.  They also
have instant on, flicker free characteristics produced by a solid state
circuit that replaces the standard fluorescent ballast.

Based on my observations I can only conclude that the tri-phosphor bulbs emit
light in the infrared portion of the spectrum and that the electronics modulate
the light at frequencies used by infrared remote control devices.

The manufacturer does include disclaimers about the devices causing
"interference if placed within 10 feet of sensitive equipment.  (T.V.s,
radios, etc.)."   (I experienced IR interference problems at 15+ feet.) There
is also a statement about compliance with part 18 of the FCC Rules indicating
that the device may not cause harmful interference.  I assumed these
references are directed at RF interference as that is what one normally
expects and there is no mention of infrared emissions.

The real risk deals with possible consequences of these lights causing
interference with existing and evolving applications of infrared technology
such as wireless digital communications, automotive collision avoidance
systems, etc.

Edward S. Suffern  INFOSEC Consultant

EU office distributes Galicia virus

Klaus Brunnstein <>
Sat, 11 Feb 1995 13:19:59 +0100
In December 1994, European Commission's office for "dissemination of
scientific and technical knowledge" distributed a diskette to more than
1,000 European information brokers, patent offices etc containing a CORDIS
News (in German) describing its RTD database etc. This diskette contained a
system (boot sector/MBR) infector which besides displaying a message (on
May 22nd, after noon: ";Galicia contra telefonica!") also overwrites
(unrecoverably) part of a diskette's boot library, and which attempts to
format a disk's cylinder. Though this formatting will likely abort, due to a
programming error, it is possible that formatting may succeed. Indeed, this
virus is malicious and not funny.  (For details, see appended VTC Malware
Catalog entry).

It is even less funny that this EU office when informed about its malicious
gift to its customers found it very hard to locate the source of the
contamination; they even could not say whether it came from another EU
office or from one of their PCs. Only after some time, they claimed to have
found 2 potential leaks which their expert said they now have closed. This
implies that for some time, EU's information dissemination was a permanent
danger for its customers.

Even more ironically: this EU office belongs to EU's Directorate General (DG
XIII) "Telecommunications, Information Market and Exploitation of Research",
which (with its branch "B.6 Security of Telecommunications and Information
Systems") is responsible for EU's IT Security Criteria (ITSEC), which also
participates actual in joint US/EU attempts to develop "Common Criteria".
When being informed about the malicious distribution by its sister office,
the head of DG XIII's SOG-IS (Senior Officials Group - Information Security)
informed the author that they dont share responsibility for maintaining a
proper security as this is done by the European Commission's Office of
Security (a typical bureaucratic approach :-). Moreover, this very nice
expert claims that "I recognize that such incidents will happen from time to
time and that the responsibility ***falls equally on both sender and
receiver*** to ensure that the most 'hygienic' procedures are used to avoid
any unnecessary spread of 'infection'"(quoted from a reply of SOG-IS chair;
emphasis added by author). Finally, "controlling viruses is primarily a
procedural rather than technical problem".

Both an evidently failing AntiVirus policy (if existing) and such expert
opinion makes it rather likely that similar incidents will follow. If I were
a virus author (being a civil servant, I have NO CRIMINAL energy as I have NO
ENERGY at all :-), I would dream of such a large organisations (several 10,000
bureaucrats) with such "awareness". With their intellectual innocence, they'd
surely help to distribute my virii if I only succeeded to infect one PC!

Mildly shocked: Klaus Brunnstein (Feb.11,1995)

======= Computer Malware Catalog 2.0: Galicia Virus (10-Feb-95) ======
Entry...............: Galicia Virus
Alias(es)...........: (Telefonica.D Virus, see Particularities)
Caroname............: Galicia
Virtype.............: b
Virus Strain........: ---
Classification......: System virus: Boot/MBR infector, memory resident,
                         partly self-encrypted.
Length of Virus.....: 1 sector
Length of Virus(RAM): 2 kBytes
=--------------------- Preconditions ----------------------------------
Operating System(s).: MS-DOS
Version/Release.....: All models
Computer model(s)...: PC's
=--------------------- Attributes -------------------------------------
Easy Identification.: ID word: V1.
                      Self recognition in memory: 7C B8 (h)  at [0:004C]
                      Self recognition on disk:   56 31 (h)  at [01B3h]
Type of infection...: System: Upon booting from an infected diskette
                              or disk (MBR), virus makes itself memory
                              resident at top of memory/below 640 kBytes,
                              and it hooks Int 13h.
                      Disk:   After booting from an infected diskette,
                              memory resident virus will infect MBR
                              upon trigger condition; original MBR
                              is saved.
                      Diskette: Once virus became memory resident, it
                              will infect any uninfected diskette in
                              drive A: and B: upon trigger condition;
                              original boot sector is saved.
Infection Trigger...: System/Memory: booting from infected disk/diskette
                      Disk/Diskette: any read (Int 13) access, when
                         drive is not actual drive.
Storage media affected: Diskette,Harddisk
Interrupts hooked...: Int 13h/02 (Read)
Damage..............: Transient: At trigger time, virus displays
                         message: "Galicia contra =>telefonica!".
                         This text string is encrypted in virus body.
                      Permanent/Disk: Upon trigger condition, virus
                         attempts to format 1st cylinder
                         (track 0/head 0/sector 6); due to a programming
                         error (un-initialised buffer address), this
                         attempt will very probably abort with an error.
                      Permanent/Diskette: Upon infecting a diskette,
                         virus overwrites track 0/head 1/ector which
                         contains part of root directory:
                            on  5,25" DD: last sector of root dir;
                            on  5,25" HD: 3rd sector of root dir;
                            on  3,5"  DD: 3rd last sector of root dir;
                            on  3,5"  HD: 2nd sector of root dir.
                         As virus does not store this sector elsewhere,
                         parts of root directory (e.g. entries 16-32
                         on 3.5" HD) are lost.
Damage Trigger......: Transient: IF (May 22) AND (time > 12:00) AND
                         (access to drive which is not to actual drive)
                      Permanent/Disk: IF (May 22) AND (time > 12:00) AND
                         (access to drive which is not to actual drive)
                      Permanent/Diskette: upon infection of boot sector
Particularities.....: Findviru calls the virus "Telefonica.d", probably
                         due to the displayed text, though the virus has
                         no relation to the Telefonica family.
Cryptomethods.......: Partly encrypted (XOR with FFFFH from offset
                         003Ch to 0159h).
Stealth.............: ---
Polymorphism........: ---
Tunneling...........: ---
=--------------------- Agents -----------------------------------------
Countermeasures.....: Good AntiVirus products (detection/cleaning).
Countermeasures successful: Several actual AntiVirus products detect
                         Galicia, essentially under its name; at
                         publication time, only few AV products (e.g.,
                         Kaspersky's AVP) properly clean it from media.
Standard means......: Cleaning diskettes: format infected diskette
                         (MS-DOS >=5.0, DR DOS >=6.0) with /U.
                      Cleaning hard disk: Use DOS FDISK /MBR command
                         to overwrite the virus.
=--------------------- Acknowledgement --------------------------------
Location............: 1) BSI/German Information Security Agency, Bonn
                      2) Virus Test Center, Univ Hamburg
Classification by...: 1) Hubert Schmitz (GISA V2)
                      2) Klaus Brunnstein, VTC
Documentation by....: 1) Hubert Schmitz (GISA V2)
                      2) Klaus Brunnstein, VTC
Date................: 10-February-1995
Information Source..: CaroBase entry (1) and additional analysis (2),
                      with information from Kaspersky, Skulason etc.
===================== End of Galicia Virus ============================

Call for Papers, Minitrack on Risks in End-User Computing, HICSS '86

"Ray Panko" <>
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 08:35:41 -1000
Twenty-Ninth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
January 3-6, 1996, Maui, Hawaii

Dr. Raymond R. Panko, minitrack coordinator

Papers are invited for the minitrack on RISKS IN END-USER COMPUTING as part
of the Information Systems track at the Hawaii International Conference on
System Science (HICSS).

Risks in End-User Computing

End users are ordinary computer users, such as managers and professionals,
rather than computer professionals.  End users control a great deal of all
computing.  There is growing evidence that this dominance of end-user
computing creates risks for organizations and perhaps even society.

We are soliciting research papers in such areas as 1) lab and field studies
on errors in spreadsheeting, query languages, and schema development in
databases, 2) privacy and security issues related to user access to
information, 3) and risks when end users use the Internet.  This is not
meant to be an exhaustive list.


HICSS is one of the oldest conferences in information systems and computer
science.  The 1996 conference will be the 29th in an unbroken series.  Each
year, the conference attracts about 500 computer research professionals.
The conference is conducted in cooperation with the IEEE Computer Society
and the ACM.  The Proceedings are published by the IEEE Computer Society

Making HICSS unique is its organization around minitracks.  In a minitrack,
the minitrack coordinator receives about fifteen to twenty papers and
selects six for presentation at the conference.  Selection is based on
rigorous refereeing, ensuring high quality.  All papers to be presented at
the conference are published in the Proceedings, which is available at the
start of the conference.

The minitrack focus of HICSS turns each minitrack into a mini-workshop.  It
provides a critical mass of research papers in a target area, providing the
cross-fertilization of ideas.  In addition, the conference activities are
consciously organized to maximize interactions among the participants.  Of
course, minitrack participants also attend many other sessions in
information systems and computer science.

Please note that HICSS is a research conference.  It is not a place for
publishing the types of articles that would appear in popular magazines.
HICSS papers should be potentially publishable in research journals.

Instructions for submitting papers:

1.  Submit 6 (six) copies of the full paper, consisting of 20-25 pages
double-spaced including title page, abstract, references and diagrams
directly to the minitrack coordinator.  Longer submissions will be rejected,
as will much shorter submissions.

2.  Do not submit the paper to more than one minitrack.  Paper should
contain original material and not be previously published or currently
submitted for consider elsewhere.

3.  Each paper must have a title page which includes the title, full
name of all authors, and their complete address including affiliation(s),
telephone number(s), and e-mail address(es).  For purposes of anonymous
refereeing, the author(s) name(s) should not appear in the rest of the

4.  The first page of the paper should include the title and a 300-word


MARCH 15, 1995: Abstracts MAY be submitted to minitrack coordinators (or
track coordinators) for guidance and indication of appropriate content.
Authors unfamiliar with HICSS or who with additional guidance are encouraged
to contact any coordinator to discuss potential papers.  Abstracts are NOT
required but are strongly encouraged.

JUNE  1, 1995: Full papers due [...]
AUG. 31, 1995:  Notification [...]
OCT.  1, 1995:  Accepted manuscripts due camera-ready plus ONE registration.
NOV. 15, 1995:  All other registrations [...]

The Risks in End-User Computing minitrack is part of the Information Systems
Track.  There are two other major tracks in the conference: Software
Technology and Digital Documents.  The Information Systems Track itself has
several minitracks that focus on a variety of research topics in
Collaboration Technology, Decision Support and Knowledge-Based Systems, and
Organizational Systems and Technology. For more information contact:

Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr.:  E-Mail:
          (602) 621-4475
          FAX: (602) 621-2433

Ralph H. Sprague, Jr.:  E-Mail:
         (808) 956-7082
         FAX: (808) 956-9889

For more information on other tracks, please contact:

Software Technology Track:
Hesham El-Rewini:  E-Mail:
Bruce D. Shriver:  E-Mail:

Digital Documents Track:
M. Stuart Lynn:  E-Mail:

For more information on the conference, please contact the
conference coordinator:

Pamela Harrington:  E-Mail:
          (808) 956-7396
          FAX: (808) 956-3766

Aloha, Ra3y (the 3 is silent)

Prof. Raymond R. Panko         Internet:
Decision Sciences Department                    Office: (808) 956-5049
College of Business Administration                 Fax: (808) 956-9889
University of Hawaii                         Secretary: (808) 956-7430
2404 Maile Way                                    Home: (808) 261-2675
Honolulu, HI 96822                         Time of Day: (808) 983-3211
USA                                            Weather: (808) 833-2849

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