This week in security: When it comes to hacking, the kids are alright

Facebook's Mark Zuckberberg came out in the lead up to the company’s public offering with a defence of the art of hacking.

Kids these days. Where once toilet-papering the school gymnasium was considered a genius sort of prank, US authorities in Nebraska were flummoxed when a school experiencing intermittent network access was found to have been hacked in an unusual way. The culprit: A student who had manipulated Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) associations to shunt outbound IP traffic so that it went to his Android mobile rather than to the Internet.

It’s the kind of skulduggery that’s causing all sorts of problems for companies big and small – and illustrates why yet another survey has found Australia’s success in its security systems is nowhere near as good as in many other countries. The McAfee survey found Australia got a middling 3.5-star score that put us in line with Austria, Canada and Japan but well behind Denmark, Estonia, France, the US, UK and others.

Security researchers may be struggling to keep up, but it’s been good times for ‘malware as a service’ sellers, who are apparently backing their dirty deeds with great customer service. That’s only likely to further grow the market for their services, which were gain in the spotlight as a Russian man accused of masterminding the Kelihos spam botnet protested his innocence – even as security researchers picked up signs that the botnet is regrouping and gaining strength.

This sort of thing is likely to continue, although with malware surging Google is hoping to do its part to stem the tide of malware with the introduction of an automatic scanner for Android apps. Vodafone is also offering mobile app scanning, but is going to charge for it.

Meanwhile, Symantec stopped warning customers off of its pcAnywhere software even as an audit found that over 140,000 users of Symantec’s pcAnywhere software are still configured to allow direct connections to the Net. Also vulnerable, it turns out, are Apple’s FileVault 2 encryption software and RFID credit cards – the latter of which were found to be easy targets for hackers in a demonstration of the “embarrassingly simple” technique at the Shmoocon hacker conference. Back to the drawing board, folks.

Speaking of hackers, Facebook’s Mark Zuckberberg came out in the lead up to the company’s public offering with a defence of the art of hacking – which he says is at the heart of the company’s way of life. That won’t be much consolation for customers of domain administrator VeriSign, which was apparently hacked several times during 2010. Management would have told the world about it sooner except, well, they didn’t know about it.

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