HD Moore, creator of the popular Metasploit hacking toolkit, has become the victim of a computer attack.
Moore's company, BreakingPoint, saw some of its internet traffic redirected to a fake Google page that was being run by a scammer. According to Moore, the hacker was able to do this by launching what's known as a cache poisoning attack on a DNS server on AT&T's network that was serving Austin, Texas in the US. One of BreakingPoint's servers was forwarding Domain Name System (DNS) traffic to the AT&T server, so when it was compromised, so was HD Moore's company.
No BreakingPoint computer was actually compromised by the incident.
When Moore tried to visit Google.com, he was actually redirected to a fake page that served up a Google page in one HTML frame along with three other pages designed to automatically click on advertisements.
BreakingPoint employees noticed the problem after friends and family who were also using the AT&T DNS server noticed that their Google web page didn't look quite right (hackers had omitted the NASA-themed logo that Google used on Tuesday).
In early July, computer security experts began warning this type of cache poisoning attack could be pulled off much more easily than previously thought, thanks to a new technique. Early last week, technical details of this attack were leaked to the internet, and HD Moore's Metasploit project quickly released the first software that exploited this tactic.
Now he's one of the first victims of such an attack. "It's funny," he joked, "I got owned".
Things may not be so funny to ISPs who are scrambling to roll out patches to their DNS software before these attacks become more widespread.
The flaw has to do with the way that DNS programs share information over the internet. In a cache poisoning attack, the attacker tricks a DNS server into associating malicious IP addresses with legitimate domains. Security experts say that this type of flaw could lead to very successful phishing attacks against web surfers whose ISPs have not patched their servers.
Because of the nature of the AT&T hack, Moore doesn't believe that he was targeted by the hackers. Even BreakingPoint employees didn't realise that their internal DNS server had been configured to use the AT&T machine. Instead, he thinks that the hackers were simply trying to make a quick buck.
AT&T representatives were not immediately available to comment on the incident.
Moore believes that this type of attack may be going on at other ISPs as well, however.
Dan Kaminsky, the IOActive researcher who first discovered the DNS problem, said that he's heard reports of other attacks, although he declined to say how widespread they were. "The capability to do a lot of damage is out there," he said.