Sexily-named hacker disgruntled by Microsoft

Sexily-named hacker disgruntled by Microsoft
Sexily-named hacker disgruntled by Microsoft 

By Robert McMillan
IDG news service
15 February 2008

Hell hath no fury than a hacker scorned. When a hacker going by the name 
Chujwamwdupe published attack code that exploited a recently patched bug 
in Microsoft Office 2003 earlier this week, it seemed as if he were 
publishing the software out of spite.

At the top of his submission, Chujwamwdupe wrote about an email 
informing him that "Unfortunately, Microsoft has refused to credit you 
using the name you requested." Microsoft acted this way because, in 
Polish, the word refers to a form of sexual intercourse.

Microsoft had been put into a tough position. The company generally goes 
out of its way to credit hackers who responsibly disclose software 
vulnerabilities, and by not crediting Chujwamwdupe, it may have put 
customers at risk by accelerating the release of attack code. After all, 
quickly releasing an exploit is the one way a hacker can back up his 
claim that he actually discovered the bug in question.

Even though the flaw, which lies in the Works File Converter, was 
patched the day before the exploit code was released, it will be months 
before all of Microsoft's customers install the updates. This means that 
Chujwamwdupe's code could be misused by criminals.

A member of Microsoft's security team flagged Chujwamwdupe's submission, 
a Microsoft spokeswoman said. "One of them happened to speak the right 
language and brought the issue to our attention," she said. "The 
finder's user name could have been perceived as offensive in another 
language, so we credited the vendor, VeriSign iDefense VCP 
[Vulnerability Contributor Program], for reporting the issue to us 

VeriSign pays hackers like Chujwamwdupe for vulnerability information so 
that it can give its customers better information on the bugs when 
Microsoft finally patches them. And while the majority of contributors 
use their real names, some use hacker pseudonyms.

Usually that's not a problem, said Matthew Richard, the director of 
iDefense's Rapid Response Team. "It really doesn't come across that 
often. There really aren't that many handles that are offensive," he 
said. Chujwamwdupe is "one of the very few that I've seen," he added.

3Com's TippingPoint division, which also pays hackers for vulnerability 
information, had to talk researcher Manuel Santamarina Suarez out of 
using a similarly offensive pseudonym, telling him, "we totally get your 
originality, but we're professionals here," said Terri Forslof, 
TippingPoint's manager of security research.

According to Forslof, who spent four years working for Microsoft's 
Security Response group, there are technical reasons why offensive terms 
cannot be included in the security bulletins. Such a word might cause 
the bulletin to be blocked by email or web-filtering software, she said, 
making it harder for Microsoft to communicate vital security information 
with its customers.

Still, things would have probably worked out better for all parties if 
Microsoft and VeriSign had worked out some way to credit the hacker, she 
said. "If Microsoft would have credited him, would he have felt the need 
to post that exploit code?"

"I believe that there was a communication breakdown here," she said.

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