Surviving the worst-case scenario

Friday, 16 August 2002, 11:47 AM EST

August kicked off with a bang for OpenBSD developers. On or about July 31st, somebody inserted a back door into the OpenSSH source code, and it was quickly mirrored around the Net. OpenSSH is one of the most popular security tools on the Internet, which means that a trojan built into OpenSSH could leave millions of computers vulnerable.

Fortunately, OpenBSD uses digital signatures on the source code. Within hours of the back door entering the source code, users noticed that the signatures of OpenSSH didn't match. By the morning of August 1st, the original source code was back on the main site, with the mirror sites following soon after.

After a flurry of e-mail warnings, all that remained was to analyze the tainted version of OpenSSH. It turns out that the tainted code tried to connect to a hacked computer in Australia that would then execute commands on the remote computer compromised with the OpenSSH back door trojan. But all of this was soon fixed.

[ Read more ]




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