They won’t divulge their real names, they call their project a “whiny, attention-seeking ploy,” and they appear to take their fashion cues from Beastie Boys music videos.
But two hackers going by the names of Mondo Armando and Müstaschio promise to begin disclosing security vulnerabilities in MySpace, News Corp.’s popular social networking site, every day next month.
“The purpose of the exercise is not so much to expose MySpace as a hive of spam and villainy (since everyone knows that already), but to highlight the monoculture-style danger of extremely popular websites,” wrote Mondo Armando in an e-mail interview.
“We could have just as easily gone after Google or Yahoo or MSN or IDG or whatever. MySpace is just more fun, and is becoming notoriously [obnoxious] about responding to security issues,” he said.
These “Month of Bugs” projects have become a way for hackers to bring attention to both themselves and to security problems in certain types of products. Well-known hacker HD Moore kicked off the craze last year when he published one browser bug per day for the month of July. His effort was followed by a “Month of kernel bugs,” a “Month of Apple Bugs,” and a “Month of PHP Bugs.”
The MySpace hackers launched their project late Thursday expressing simultaneous enthusiasm and disdain for the task ahead. “If it ends up being just as lame as the Month of Apple Bugs, then we haven’t really missed the mark. If it’s funnier, then great,” they wrote on their
project’s blog. “If it kills this Month of Whatever fad, then hurray for everyone, it’s over.”
They intend to primarily publish cross site scripting bugs, which can allow an attacker to execute malicious script within a victim’s browser, but they may also publish bugs that affect browsers or technologies like Flash or QuickTime.
Though the project, which launches on April 1, has all the appearance of a practical joke, one well-known hacker said he’d been contacted by the Month of MySpace team with legitimate security questions. “Those guys and I have been keeping in touch,” said Robert Hansen, chief executive of Sectheory.com. “It’s funny but it’s not a joke.”
Whatever comes of the MySpace bug month, security experts are paying more attention lately to vulnerabilities in Web sites that allow users to upload their own content.
Last December a fast-spreading worm hit MySpace, flooding users with spam and copying a malicious QuickTime file all over the MySpace network.
If these attacks continue, MySpace will have a tough time balancing security with its desire to provide interactive tools that users love, said Ken Dunham, director of VeriSign Inc.’s Rapid Response Team. “From a design perspective, it’s difficult to wrap your arms around it,” he said. “Even when they have countermeasures in place… it’s trivial to obfuscate to evade their detection mechanisms.”
News Corp. did not respond to requests for comment on the “Month of MySpace Bugs.”