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LiveJournal security
ou know all of those nifty security changes LiveJournal has been making lately? What they neglected to tell you is why.

In case you don't follow the link to Bantown's Encyclopedia Dramatica entry from the Washington Post security blog:

"In order for the account takeovers to end, Bantown demands that Denise Paolucci post on the front-page LiveJournal news that LJ has been owned by Bantown."

ho is Denise Paolucci? Glad you asked. Apparently, the whole ordeal is the result of a vendetta that Bantown has for Ms. Paolucci.

Personally I find the staggering claim that they swiped 900,000 account passwords a little hard to swallow, but if it is true, it's no wonder that LiveJournal has been nagging about passwords for months and even freezing accounts. Also if this is true, that means you people click on ANYTHING. Sheesh. Considering there's only 2 million active LiveJournal accounts, they have a 50% success rate at obtaining the information necessary to hijack an account. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

People wonder why I'm so cautious about putting too many real-life things out into the internet. This is why ladies and gentlemen: somewhere in some massive file of stolen cookies lies my login information to LiveJournal. The concept of "friends-only" and "private" doesn't really mean much in light of that.

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i'm not sure i get this. so if you clicked on WHAT you go owned?

I second the motion to clarify what we're not supposed to click on. And just for the record, I did not click on a single link within the article you posted, although at least now I know why LJ has been bugging me to change my account password.

see lj has NOT asked me to change my password, although today i DID forget my password at work and went to the password recovery page where i was told i could not request my password anymore as only five requests were allowed per day. i had never asked them to send it before, let alone five times today. i just figured it was some weird bug, though, and think it probably still was. interesting, though.

I think it's meant as general admonishment to not click anything that is not from a rock-solid, proven, trustworthy source. Pretty much the same advice that applies to email and phishing scams.

The way these attacks worked is: you click on "teh linxxor" and the destination executed a script. In this case it swiped your LJ account cookie, but on the internet at large such scripts could do anything (look for password files, install keyloggers, put porn on your machine, turn it into a bot, etc).

The LJ attack was made possible due to a collusion of factors - security holes in a browser, and faults in LJs dependence on cookies.

So how do know what to click on and what not to? Aye- there's the rub. In social network like LJ, not sharing links runs counter to the experience. Salty, jaded 'net veterens develop a sixth sense about things that is hard to quantify (but starts with ignoring email FWds and similar drek). Basically no amount of free pr0n is worth borking your machine or your identity.

I don't know if that over-simplified or over complicated things... but I hope that helps.

so we're talking about the funny links our friends post in their entries like 'omg look at the funny snl skit lol!' links?

In essense, yes, although we all know the internets would grind to a halt without the trade and barter of SNL skits ;)

It's worth noting the link would not necessarily have had to originate from LJ. Of course, the hacker would reap a quicker harvest that way, but you could have clicked a link in an email that would take you to the same page, and if you also had an LJ account.... you see where this is going.

And that goes back to the problem: I click on stupid stuff all the time... but I've developed a pretty good e-shit detector over the years too. There's really no hard-and-fast fail-safe rule for links. And that's why these attacks work.

he actual link(s) is not important as it was likely a combination of hundreds/thousands of different links. And with the way a link will propogate through internet communities and the blogsphere as a whole, its likely that a lot of people clicked on the offending links in friends journals.

More than likely, the link was a script which executed the cookie transfer, in addition to still providing whatever content was promised, leaving the victim unaware that anything was amiss

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