The RISKS Digest
Volume 26 Issue 41

Thursday, 7th April 2011

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

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

Please try the URL privacy information feature enabled by clicking the flashlight icon above. This will reveal two icons after each link the body of the digest. The shield takes you to a breakdown of Terms of Service for the site - however only a small number of sites are covered at the moment. The flashlight take you to an analysis of the various trackers etc. that the linked site delivers. Please let the website maintainer know if you find this useful or not. As a RISKS reader, you will probably not be surprised by what is revealed…


Network failure closed hospitals to ambulance admissions
Gabe Goldberg
Japanese air route changes
RSA turning a technical disaster into a marketing catastrophe?
Dceased Father-in-Law spamming friends and family two years on
Matthew Tarpy
A study in contrasts: handling stolen e-mail lists
Jonathan Kamens
Video: Internet Freedoms Lost: A Search Story
Lauren Weinstein
A Message from Walgreens
F John Reinke
Epsilon Data Breach: Expect a Surge in Spear Phishing Attacks
Jim Reisert
Epsilon: Who Reacted and How
Stephen Smoliar via PGN
75-year-old woman *literally* cuts Armenia off the Internet
Lauren Weinstein
The Rootkit That Was Not
Gene Wirchenko
Omission in CFP 2011 conference announcement
Jeremy Epstein
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Network failure closed hospitals to ambulance admissions

Gabe Goldberg <>
Sun, 03 Apr 2011 21:38:05 -0400

University College London hospitals trust (UCLH) has launched an
investigation after a network glitch led to the closure of A&E to blue light
traffic. The problem also led to cancellations of operations.

The trust was last month forced to halt a number of services, including the
cancellation of 50 per cent of its operations, due to a faulty network
switch. The faulty switch left computers across the trust unable to access
various systems such as the trust's patient administration system and its
IDX patient records software CareCast.

A spokesman for the trust said that the network-wide incident occurred
during the early hours of 22 February. He explained that UCLH was required
to implement its business continuity plans, which included paper-based
procedures, "in order to maintain business as usual".

"Patient safety was at no stage compromised. In agreement with the London
Ambulance Service, blue light patients were diverted to other hospitals for
about 10 hours throughout the day. However our emergency department remained
open to walk-in attendances," he said.

Japanese air route changes

Fri, 01 Apr 2011 10:47:42 +0800

Better reprogram your airplane navigation system with all these new
Japanese route changes:

RSA turning a technical disaster into a marketing catastrophe?

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Wed, 6 Apr 2011 20:57:11 PDT

  [Thanks to Jeremy Epstein.  PGN]

Source: Ellen Messmer, *Network World*, 5 Apr 2011

RSA has started providing more detail into the mid-March attack on its
SecurID token-based authentication system, but to get a fuller story you
have to be an RSA customer willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Sources say RSA is reaching out to its largest customers, especially those
in sensitive industries, to get IT executives to sign such NDAs.  However,
some RSA customers say they aren't willing to do that.

  [What are they trying to hide?  Embarrassment? Liability? Clouded minds? PGN]

Deceased Father-in-Law spamming friends and family two years on

Matthew Tarpy <>
April 5, 2011 8:45:55 AM EDT

  [From Dave Farber's IP distribution.  PGN]

My father in law tragically passed away just about two years ago, and a few
months ago I helped my mother in law go through the process of having his
account AOL closed down. Now he's spamming people from his mail book and
it's causing, to say the least, some emotional distress.

When my wife first told me about it, I figured that she'd gotten a one in a
trillion blast spam that used his account, but the TO: line had all people
he knew, so someone, somehow has gotten this account back alive. has been next to useless as to help, and if it were just an old
e-mail address I'd be tempted to just have people blackhole it, but because
of who it is, and all that entails, I'd really like AOL's elp in shutting
this down, it's causing my family a lot of pain and I can't imagine this
will take them more than 3 minutes to fix.

If anyone could put me in touch with anyone at AOL who could/would help,
I'd greatly appreciate it!

A study in contrasts: handling stolen e-mail lists

Jonathan Kamens <>
Sun, 03 Apr 2011 01:49:00 -0400

I try to make a habit of giving out "tagged" e-mail addresses to web sites
when I sign up for accounts / mailing lists / whatever. For example, when
creating an account at, instead of just signing up as
"", I might sign up as "". It ends up in
the same mailbox regardless, and it gives me some visibility into who is
sharing or selling or allowing my e-mail address to be stolen.

About six months ago, I started getting spam from an e-mail address that I
had only used in one place: signing up one of my kids for a Scholastic,
Inc. book club through their web site, way back in 2007.

I contacted Scholastic and told them that either they were selling my e-mail
address and it needed to stop, or they had suffered a data breach of at
least customer e-mail addresses, if not more.

In response, Scholastic's CISO informed me that Scholastic doesn't sell
e-mail addresses to third parties; their children's book club business was
sold to Sandvik Publishing in 2008; the e-mail address in question was no
longer in Scholastic's database; and I should contact Sandvik if I wished to
pursue the matter further.

I sent a reply to the CISO which read as follows:

  I don't recall ever being asked whether I considered it OK for Scholastic
  to sell my PII to another company. This is especially disturbing since at
  that point I was no longer a customer of Scholastic's for the business
  that was sold.

  Granted, your privacy policy gives you the legal right to sell any
  information you collect to anyone you want. The fact that you are legally
  permitted to do that doesn't make it right.

  Your privacy policy also says, "Scholastic ensures that all personally and
  non-personally identifiable information that it receives via the Internet
  is secure against unauthorized access."  Alas, you apparently do not
  consider it your responsibility to ensure that the third parties to whom
  you sell PII keep it as secure as you claim to do yourselves. That is
  rather disappointing.

  I will contact [Sandvik] as you have suggested. However, if I were in your
  shoes, I would be extremely concerned that a third party to whom
  Scholastic had sold PII allowed it to be compromised, and I would consider
  it my responsibility to investigate the issue myself, rather than leaving
  the wronged (former) Scholastic customer entirely on his own.

I received no further response from Scholastic.

I then contacted the president of Sandvik. He insisted that Sandvik also
does not sell e-mail addresses, and that it was simply impossible that my
address could have been leaked through them, since the only place they
have it is on a USB drive locked in a safe. They said it was more likely
that the address was stolen by someone from my mail server or computer.

I explained in response that the the only place this address could be
found on my computer was in a three-year-old, compressed e-mail archive
in a totally non-standard location in my home directory, and that I ran
my own Linux mail server which I actively monitored on a daily basis,
which had never shown any evidence of any sort of successful intrusion,
and which in any case was hardly an attractive target for spammers to go
to the trouble of harvesting e-mail addresses from, since it serves only
the people in my family.

For this, and various other reasons I pointed out, it was far more
likely that the address had been stolen at some point from Sandvik. I
also pointed out that the data breach laws in many of the states in
which Sandvik does business would seem to require Sandvik to initiate an
investigation into the breach and/or to report it to various state
governments. At this point, Sandvik, too, stopped responding to my e-mails.

There's really no way of knowing whether my e-mail address was actually
stolen from Scholastic or Sandvik. I don't save mail server logs back
far enough to know when I first started getting spam at that address,
and even if I did, there's no guarantee that spammers would have started
using the address immediately after getting their hands on it, nor is
there any guarantee that Scholastic completely destroyed the data
immediately after selling the business to Sandvik. Scholastic and
Sandvik both refuse to acknowledge the possibility that e-mail addresses
and possibly more PII were stolen from them, and it's unlikely that a
nobody like me would be able to convince them to take this more
seriously, so I stopped trying.

I'd like to contrast the poor handling of the e-mail address breach by
Scholastic and/or Sandvik with an e-mail message I just got from Brookstone:

    *++++++++++++Important E-Mail Security Alert++++++++++++*

    Dear Valued Brookstone Customer,

    On March 31, we were informed by our e-mail service provider that
    your e-mail address may have been exposed by unauthorized entry into
    their system. Our e-mail service provider deploys e-mails on our
    behalf to customers in our e-mail database.

    *We want to assure you that the only information that may have been
    obtained was your first name and e-mail address. Your account and
    any other personally identifiable information are not stored in this
    system and were not at risk.*

    Please note, it is possible you may receive spam e-mail messages as
    a result. We want to urge you to be cautious when opening links or
    attachments from unknown third parties.

    In keeping with best industry security practices, *_Brookstone will
    never ask you to provide or confirm any information, including
    credit card numbers, unless you are on our secure e-commerce site,*

    Our service provider has reported this incident to the appropriate

    We regret this has taken place and for any inconvenience this may
    have caused you. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will
    continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.


    Brookstone Customer Care

It's definitely unfortunate that Brookstone allowed a breach of e-mail
addresses and the first names associated with them, because spammers
will use the first names to help them evade people's spam filters and
execute more convincing and successful phishing attacks. Having said
that, Brookstone deserves a great deal of credit for sending out this
notification. Furthermore, if the timeline in the notification is true,
then they sent it out two days after being notified about the breach,
which is all the more impressive.

Video: Internet Freedoms Lost: A Search Story

Lauren Weinstein <>
Thu, 7 Apr 2011 00:31:56 -0700


Greetings.  Congress is hellbent on imposing Internet censorship, using
exaggerated claims of piracy as the excuse for draconian COICA and other
legislation that would give the U.S. government unparalleled control over
the operations and content not only of U.S. based Internet sites, but (via
the DNS - Domain Name System) sites around the world in other countries as

And with a major target of Congress now appearing to be search engines such
as Google, Congressional efforts seem aimed at declaring that even providing
a link or other information about an "offending" site should be prohibited.

Attempts to censor and otherwise micromanage the search results of Google
and other search engines are an additional enormous threat to free speech
and civil liberties globally.

Can these enormously important issues be boiled down to a very short, very
quickly produced "Search Story" video?

Let's find out.

Internet Freedoms Lost: A Search Story:  (YouTube / ~1.5 minutes)

Lauren Weinstein (
People For Internet Responsibility:
Network Neutrality Squad:
Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance:
PRIVACY Forum:  +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype:

A Message from Walgreens

"fj@rcc" <>
Mon, 04 Apr 2011 19:08:32 -0400

A good reason to use unique e-mail addresses for each of your "special"
correspondents. Just like passwords, unique. A little bit of trouble to
administrate, but it certainly isolates the trouble. And, it's trivial to do
when you have your own domain. You can even subcontract the e-mail to Gmail
if you want by repointing a few records. It also automagicaly detects
financial spam, when a message purporting to be from "your bank" arrives on
the "wrong e-mail" account. Wish I could teach this technique to more
people. We could have e-mail "security" even if the ISPs don't want to do
IPv6 or e-mail providers, like Yahoo, won't authenticate when e-mail arrives
from outside labeled as if originated from Yahoo itself.  (I even tried to
sell them a consulting engagement but they said "it wasn't their
problem". With an attitude like that, no wonder we have problems.)

Ferdinand John Reinke, 3 Tyne Court, Kendall Park, NJ 08824 1-908-209-3625
Personal: Professional:

- ------- Original Message --------
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 2011 18:20:30 EDT
From: Walgreens <>
Subject: A Message from Walgreens

Dear Valued Customer,

On March 30th, we were informed by Epsilon, a company we use to send e-mails
to our customers, that files containing the e-mail addresses of some
Walgreens customers were accessed without authorization.  We have been
assured by Epsilon that the only information that was obtained was your
email address. No other personally identifiable information was at risk
because such data is not contained in Epsilon's email system.

For your security, we encourage you to be aware of common email scams that
ask for personal or sensitive information. Walgreens will not send you
emails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other
personally identifiable information. If ever asked for this information, you
can be confident it is not from Walgreens.

We regret this has taken place and any inconvenience this may have caused
you. If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact us at
1-855-814-0010. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to
work diligently to protect your personal information.

Sincerely, Walgreens Customer Service Team

  [Wow, just after I sent off the above e-mail, in comes another one
  regarding Epsilon from Target. Same comments apply to this one.  "Unique
  email addresses" solves this too.  And then, just a while later, a third
  one from Marriott International, Inc.  fj]

Epsilon Data Breach: Expect a Surge in Spear Phishing Attacks

Jim Reisert AD1C <>
Mon, 04 Apr 2011 20:42:04 -0600

A very good description of the risks here - I think even a layman/laywoman
could follow it.

Epsilon: Who Reacted and How (Stephen Smoliar)

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Sun, 3 Apr 2011 19:56:16 PDT

From Stephen Smoliar's blog, 3 Apr 2011:

Last night the Security section of CNET News ran the following report
by Edward Moyer on a security breach.

Epsilon, which manages e-mail communications for TiVo, JP Morgan Chase,
Capital One Financial, US Bank, the Kroger grocery chain, and other
clients, said this week that it suffered a security breach that revealed
data on some of its clients' customers.

Epsilon, which says it sends 40 billion e-mails annually, released a
yesterday saying that on March 30 it detected an"unauthorized entry into its
system that exposed customer names and e-mail addresses.  The company said
"no other personal identifiable information associated with those names was
at risk."  Bloomberg reported that an Epsilon representative would not say
how many other clients might be affected, citing an ongoing investigation.

While this is clearly interesting on its own merits, my attention was drawn
to Moyer's account of how some of these businesses reacted when they were
informed of the situation by Epsilon.  Kroger's strategy was to use
electronic mail to deliver a short message:

  Kroger wants to remind you not to open e-mails from senders you do not
  know.  Also, Kroger would never ask you to e-mail personal information
  such as credit card numbers or social security numbers. If you receive
  such a request, it did not come from Kroger and should be deleted.

While this does not say anything that readers should not know, it provides a
useful reminder through the very channel that had been placed at risk.  This
amounts of a vote of confidence in Epsilon's statement and their approach to
managing electronic mail.  It is also likely to be seen by those who matter
the most.

This strikes me as a far better understanding of `customer relationship
than the actions of Chase <> and Capital
One, each of which simply posted the information on their respective Web
sites.  Chase did a relatively poor job of directing attention.  The notice
is on the home page in the form: Please read important message
to all Chase customers.

That this summary should have been more informative.  Many (probably
myself included) would view this with suspicion as being just another
pitch to sell something.  In my case, though, I would never see the
message, since, as a Chase customer, I tend to go directly to the My
Accounts page.  Not only is there no notice of the problem on that page,
but also there is not a message in the internal Secure Message Center
alerting me that a problem may exist.  Capital One, however, turned out
to be even worse, since they do not even provide a pointer to their
on their home page <>.

It seems to me that the main conclusion to draw from this comparison is that
Kroger gave more thought to communicating with their customers than either
Chase or Capital One did.  One reason may be that Kroger has to deal with
its customers as grocery shoppers on a week-by-week basis, if not with
greater frequency.  The financial sector, on the other hand, does not think
about engaging with customers with such frequency.  As a corollary this
means that businesses in the financial sector “understand'' (scare quotes
intended) their customers by analyzing databases
while Kroger may actually try to establish understanding through engagement
on the floor
of their outlets.  I would further suggest that Capital One, in particular,
seems to feel that it is important to invest its resources in advertising to
bring in more customers than in engaging in any meaningful way with the
customers it already has (perhaps because they think of engagement
<> in
terms of selling more stuff rather than providing the services associated
with that stuff).  This may be yet another lens through which we can examine
the state of our current economic problems and our prospects for recovery

75-year-old woman (literally) cuts Armenia off the Internet

Lauren Weinstein <>
Wed, 6 Apr 2011 09:58:09 -0700

  [Network Neutrality Squad]  (Gawker)

The Rootkit That Was Not

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 05 Apr 2011 12:31:49 -0700

Robert Lemos, Lessons from the Samsung rootkit that never existed: A
language pack for a European country gets labeled as a keylogger and quickly
roils the blogosphere, *InfoWorld Tech Watch, 01 April 2011

A lot of malicious software originates in the former Eastern Bloc and other
once-communist nations. Theories of why that is vary: Perhaps unemployed
workers in those countries are highly educated in technology disciplines and
remain steeped in a culture of underground capitalism from the communist
era. Or, more simply, it could be the a lack of a legal framework to
prosecute cybercrime.

Security software firm GFI Software went unintentionally overboard
protecting against Balkan malware, classifying the entire Slovenian language
as malicious. Under certain settings, GFI's Vipre malware scanning engine
labeled the Windows/SL directory found on some Samsung computers as
malicious, mistaking it for the StarLogger rootkit. Rootkits hide themselves
on a victim's system to escape detection; in reality, the directory contains
localization files for the south-central European nation of Slovenia.

Omission in CFP 2011 conference announcement

Jeremy Epstein <>
Fri, 1 Apr 2011 22:13:21 -0400

In RISKS-26.38 I submitted the Call for submission for Computers
Freedom Privacy research & posters.  I apologize for omitting the
important logistics information!

CFP 2011 will be held at Georgetown University in Washington DC on
June 14-16.  The poster session will be on June 16.  Additional
information is available at

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