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    • New note by bobjonkman 13 December 2018
      That was fun! I'm actually working on a for-reals Emergency Broadcast System at @RadioWaterloo -- I'll pass on your video so we can use it as our fallback audio track :)
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      bobjonkman favorited something by scarlett: always remember "punishable with a fine" means "legal for rich people"
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      I was out. Back to the archives for me.
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by fdroidorg 11 December 2018
      RT @fdroidorg Do you have experience with #Flatpak? Then we need your help!We want to package #Repomaker as #Flatpak to make it easier for people to install. We already have a running flatpak and are only missing the final bits. Any help is highly appreciated!See "Packaging Repomaker as Flatpak" for more information: https://forum.f-droid.org/t/f-droid-roles/4202
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by tindall 11 December 2018
      RT @tindall Understanding these things, I feel that it is my duty, to myself and to my community, to reject and replace the products and services of as many spying companies with those of non-spying companies and nonprofit groups as rapidly and thoroughly possible.That can only be done with free software. So, I am a […]
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      bobjonkman favorited something by tindall: Understanding these things, I feel that it is my duty, to myself and to my community, to reject and replace the products and services of as many spying companies with those of non-spying companies and nonprofit groups as rapidly and thoroughly possible.That can only be done with free software. So, […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by indi 11 December 2018
      RT @indi The 2018 iteration of Indi's alternative holiday playlist has started going up today! Over the next two weeks, 100 holiday songs that are non-religious and don't sound like the standard holiday fare will be featured. https://www.canadianatheist.com/2018/12/indis-alternative-holiday-playlist-2018-100-to-91/ !atheism !secular !SecularHumanism
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      bobjonkman favorited something by indi: The 2018 iteration of Indi's alternative holiday playlist has started going up today! Over the next two weeks, 100 holiday songs that are non-religious and don't sound like the standard holiday fare will be featured. https://www.canadianatheist.com/2018/12/indis-alternative-holiday-playlist-2018-100-to-91/ !atheism !secular !SecularHumanism
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by ronhouk 4 December 2018
      RT @ronhouk Just got a grant for my #library to get 15 laptops. they'll be using #Linux and we will be teaching classes on open source software.
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      bobjonkman favorited something by ronhouk: Just got a grant for my #library to get 15 laptops. they'll be using #Linux and we will be teaching classes on open source software.

Archive for November, 2010

What to do about compromised Hotmail passwords

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 18th November 2010

autoroute à emails

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte

I administer a number of e-mail systems, and I’ve been seeing a lot of spam coming from Hotmail accounts recently. And both friends and clients have been telling me that it’s not them who are sending spam from Hotmail (and ending up in my e-mail systems), their accounts have been hacked. One person asked me:

Is it just Hotmail? What else could I use? Can’t I just change my password?

Changing passwords is only an effective solution if the account was compromised by social engineering, eg. the legitimate user giving out the password in a phishing attempt or other direct means, or if a simple password was guessed or cracked.

There is evidence that Hotmail and Yahoo’s password recovery mechanism is flawed (eg. the Sarah Palin breach), so that malusers can acquire a new password for an account. I don’t think this is happening, because victims are not reporting being locked out of their accounts. Of course, if the service merely sends out the current password then this may be what is happening, and no amount of password complexity will protect the account.

If the passwords were compromised by an automated password cracker then I would expect only simple passwords to be breached, and accounts with strong passwords would be safe. I do not know what kind of passwords were in use by the people who have compromised accounts, but it is likely they were simple passwords.

While I have no evidence, I think the current rash of breaches is due to a more systematic attack by URL munging, or fuzzing the inputs on a POST request, or some other attack vector. These attacks do not require an authenticated login, and in that case no amount of password complexity will provide security either.

I haven’t heard of similar compromised accounts in Gmail, so that may be a suitable alternative for now. I’ve been recommending that people use the mail accounts provided by their ISPs, largely so that they can make use of the ISP’s technical support if their accounts do get compromised. And, of course, if they’re paying their ISP for a mail account then there may be immunity from liability (“My mail account was compromised and I was paying my ISP for security, so all this spam is their fault”).

–Bob.

Update 5 Feb 2012: I retract the first sentence in the last paragraph. E-mail Administrator friends have been telling me that Google Mail is just as vulnerable as Hotmail and Yahoo. Having just read “Hacked!” in The Atlantic I’m convinced the problem of compromised mail accounts is worse than I thought, and that no online providers (especially the “free” ones) adequately protect the e-mail of their users.

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte is used under a Creative Commons by-sa-v2.0 license.

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