WiFi, DDoS Vulnerabilities, Cyber-Attacks Lead Week's Security News

Vulnerabilities in Web application frameworks such as ASP.NET, and a security standard for wireless networks were among the security headlines for the last week of 2011.

Software security flaws dominated news headlines this week, as security experts discussed the implications of a vulnerability that was found in several Web application frameworks.

Microsoft issued a security advisory highlighting the flaw in ASP.NET with workarounds on how to mitigate the issue. The flaw, publicized at the Chaos Communication Club's security conference in Germany, involved the way that Web application frameworks create too large hash tables in order to process certain parameters in a Web request. An attacker could exploit this large hash table flaw to trigger a denial-of-service condition.

The company followed up the advisory with an out-of-band patch later in the week to fix the issue. Microsoft managed to quickly turn around the fix by packaging it with a.NET patch that had already been scheduled for January's Patch Tuesday release. Adding the fix of the new hashdos bug to the .NET patch provided the fastest possible response, according to Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle.

"We consider Microsoft's reaction and implementation speed outstanding, as they were only notified at the tail end of the German security researchers' work," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys. Apache said it has already addressed the issue in its Tomcat software, but Oracle did not respond to eWEEK's queries on its plans to update Java and related products. PHP, Python and Ruby are also affected.

The emergency patch was the first, and last, out-of-band update issued by Microsoft in 2011. It brought the company's total number of patches released this year to an even 100.

Another serious vulnerability uncovered this week was in WiFi Protected Setup, a protocol commonly used to secure wireless networks. The standard was adopted in 2007 and was intended to make it easy for home users and small office administrators to set up secure wireless networks by requiring devices to enter the router's eight-digit PIN before being allowed to connect.

However, a flaw in how the protocol was designed meant attackers had to guess only the first four-digits of the PIN in a brute-force attack. US-CERT issued a warning, acknowledging there was no fix available at this time and users should disable WPS and use WPA2 encryption with strong passwords instead.

Over the Christmas holidays, a group of hackers claiming to be part of the Anonymous group targeted Stratfor, a publisher of global intelligence data, and dumped email addresses of more than a quarter-million people and some credit card information online. Another group of Anonymous members issued a statement criticizing the attack, highlighting the collective's loose structure. Stratfor said the list contained information of people who subscribe to its publications and did not include its client list. The Website will remain down for the time being and victims will receive a year of identity protection coverage from CSID, a Stratfor spokesperson told eWEEK.

The dumped data contained 859,311 email addresses, 68.063 credit card numbers and 50,618 addresses, according to analysis performed by Identity Finder.

Raytheon acquired Henggeler Computer Consultants for an undisclosed sum this week, making it the last security acquisition of 2011. Henggeler Computer Consultants provides enterprise architecture, software, analytics and cloud services to the intelligence and defense community.