(LiveHacking.Com) – A reformed black hat hacker, who now works as an ethical security researcher and penetration tester, has found zero-day vulnerabilities in several online services including some provided by Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Facebook. Since the tester, who goes by the name Virus_HimA, ceased black hat activities he started reporting the vulnerabilities to the vendors instead. According to his post on Pastebin, companies like Google reacted quickly to the reported flaws, but others like Adobe and Yahoo moved very slowly and in some cases didn’t even bother to reply to the disclosure emails they were sent.
As a result Virus_HimA has declared his intention to “teach both of them a hard lesson to harden their security procedures.” This is the better of two evils acording to the ex-hacker. “It would make a disaster if such companies vulnerabilities was privately used in the underground and they never know about it! not only their customers been affected but the vendors themselves also suffer from such exploits,” he wrote.
As part of his penetration activities, Virus_HimA claims to have access to:
- Full files backup for one of Yahoo domains
- Full access to 12 of Yahoo Databases
- Knowledge of a reflected-XSS (Cross Site Scripting) vulnerability
The researcher has promised never to use, share, sell or publish any of the Adobe or Yahoo data and exploits anywhere, but rather is keen to establish his reputation. To this end when he released a small sample of data from Adobe, he specially chose to publish critical email addresses including those with a .mil ending. This got Adobe’s attention which quickly started investigating the case, shut-down the vulnerable web site and emailed him asking for vulnerability details. Apparently Adobe are now working on a patch.
This isn’t the first time a frustrated researcher has resorted to public exposure to get a large online business to move quicker with regards to security issues. Back in November PayPal were embroiled in a dispute with a security researcher who reported errors under PayPal’s security bounty scheme. A few weeks later Skype had to move quickly to fix an account hijacking flaw after it was posted online. The problem was that Skype had been made aware of the flaw some three months before hand.
The ethicality of such public exposure is questionable, however until some of the big online companies start to take these private disclosures more seriously they will continue to happen.