Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Google now a hacker's tool

Filed under
Security

Somewhere out on the Internet, an Electric Bong may be in danger. The threat: a well-crafted Google query that could allow a hacker to use Google's massive database as a resource for intrusion.

"Electric Bong" was one of a number of household devices that security researcher Johnny Long came across when he found an unprotected Web interface to someone's household electrical network. To the right of each item were two control buttons, one labelled "on," the other, "off."

Long, a researcher with Computer Sciences Corp. and author of the book, "Google Hacking for Penetration Testers," was able to find the Electric Bong simply because Google contains a lot of information that wasn't intended to lie unexposed on the Web. The problem, he said at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas last week, lies not with Google itself but with the fact that users often do not realize what Google's powerful search engine has been able to dig up.

In addition to power systems, Long and other researchers were able to find unsecured Web interfaces that gave them control over a wide variety of devices, including printer networks, PBX (private branch exchange) enterprise phone systems, routers, Web cameras, and of course Web sites themselves. All can be uncovered using Google, Long said.

But the effectiveness of Google as a hacking tool does not end there. It can also be used as a kind of proxy service for hackers, Long said.

Although security software can identify when an attacker is performing reconnaissance work on a company's network, attackers can find network topology information on Google instead of snooping for it on the network they're studying, he said. This makes it harder for the network's administrators to block the attacker. "The target does not see us crawling their sites and getting information," he said.

Often, this kind of information comes in the form of apparently nonsensical information -- something that Long calls "Google Turds." For example, because there is no such thing as a Web site with the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) "nasa," a Google search for the query "site:nasa" should turn up zero results. instead, it turns up what appears to be a list of servers, offering an insight into the structure of Nasa's (the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's) internal network, Long said.

Combining well-structured Google queries with text processing tools can yield things like SQL (Structured Query Language) passwords and even SQL error information. This could then be used to structure what is known as a SQL injection attack, which can be used to run unauthorized commands on a SQL database. "This is where it becomes Google hacking," he said. "You can do a SQL injection, or you can do a Google query and find the same thing."

Although Google traditionally has not concerned itself with the security implications of its massive data store, the fact that it has been an unwitting participant in some worm attacks has the search engine now rejecting some queries for security reasons, Long said. "Recently, they've stepped into the game."

Source.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS Delayed Until February 2, Will Bring Linux 4.8, Newer Mesa

If you've been waiting to upgrade your Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system to the 16.04.2 point release, which should have hit the streets a couple of days ago, you'll have to wait until February 2. We hate to give you guys bad news, but Canonical's engineers are still working hard these days to port all the goodies from the Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) repositories to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, which is a long-term supported version, until 2019. These include the Linux 4.8 kernel packages and an updated graphics stack based on a newer X.Org Server version and Mesa 3D Graphics Library. Read more

Calamares Release and Adoption

  • Calamares 3.0 Universal Linux Installer Released, Drops Support for KPMcore 2
    Calamares, the open-source distribution-independent system installer, which is used by many GNU/Linux distributions, including the popular KaOS, Netrunner, Chakra GNU/Linux, and recently KDE Neon, was updated today to version 3.0. Calamares 3.0 is a major milestone, ending the support for the 2.4 series, which recently received its last maintenance update, versioned 2.4.6, bringing numerous improvements, countless bug fixes, and some long-anticipated features, including a brand-new PythonQt-based module interface.
  • Due to Popular Request, KDE Neon Is Adopting the Calamares Graphical Installer
    KDE Neon maintainer Jonathan Riddell is announcing today the immediate availability of the popular Calamares distribution-independent Linux installer framework on the Developer Unstable Edition of KDE Neon. It would appear that many KDE Neon users have voted for Calamares to become the default graphical installer system used for installing the Linux-based operating system on their personal computers. Indeed, Calamares is a popular installer framework that's being successfully used by many distros, including Chakra, Netrunner, and KaOS.

Red Hat Financial News