Hacker: Lol, I pwned FBI.gov! Web devs: Nuh-uh, no you didn't

Publishing system makers say it's a hoax


Updated A hacker is claiming to have breached the FBI's website security, dumping staffers' email addresses and SHA1-scrambled password hashes with salts online. Meanwhile, the makers of the site's publishing software say it's all a hoax.

A miscreant using the handle @cyberzeist claims to have infiltrated Plone CMS used by FBI.gov, using a zero day flaw allegedly for sale on an unnamed dark web site.

The Register has contacted the FBI to confirm the allegations. The agency was not immediately available for comment – although a staffer said they were aware of the alleged break-in.

Cyberzeist claims to have conducted the hack last month and has posted to Twitter what they claim are screen captures showing the FBI patching against the vulnerability, which appeared to permit public access.

The hacker dumped the 155 purported stolen credentials to online clipboard pastebin, claiming a vulnerability resides in a Plone Python module. They said the websites of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are also vulnerable.

Cyberzeist also claimed the FBI contacted the hacker requesting a copy of the stolen credentials, which they declined to provide.

The hacker reckoned the CMS was hosted on a virtual machine running a custom FreeBSD. They said they will tweet the zero day flaw once it is no longer for sale.

The FBI is a confirmed user of the Plone CMS, as is Amnesty International.

The latter organisation acknowledged a warning from Cyberzeist that its CMS was exposed.

The hacker claimed the FBI's site was offline on New Year's Eve, but none of the dozen WayBackMachine site captures of the FBI's homepage on 31 December and 1 January indicated it was unavailable. ®

Updated to add at 11.49 GMT, January 5

Plone's security team has been in touch since the publication of this article with this statement: "Some users on Twitter are circulating rumours about about a zero day vulnerability in Plone being used to attack the FBI.

"The Plone Security Team believes that these claims are a hoax. As Plone is open source software, it is easy to fake a screenshot showing Plone’s code. Causing source code to be leaked to the end user is a common form of attack against PHP applications, but as Python applications don’t use the cgi-bin model of execution it has never been a marker of an attack against a Python site.

"The hashes [the 'hacker'] claims to have released have several warning signs that point to them being fake. Firstly, the email addresses used match other FBI emails that have been harvested over the years that are publicly available. The password hashes and salts he claims to have found are not consistent with values generated by Plone, indicating they were bulk generated elsewhere."

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021