Light Reading

Is Comcast Ready for Big Hack Attack?

Mari Silbey
2/11/2014
50%
50%

How well would Comcast cope with another security invasion by computer hackers?

In a calculated attack last week, hacking group NullCrew FTS claims to have exploited a known vulnerability in at least 34 Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) servers throughout the US, potentially gaining access to subscriber payment information and account settings. Comcast said at the time that it had "no evidence to suggest any personal customer information was obtained in this incident."

Others, however, are not so sanguine about Comcast's ability to stave off security threats to its customers. In fact, at least one security expert is recommending that Comcast subscribers change their passwords to protect their accounts from cyber intruders.

"Of course, Comcast should be telling their customers to change their passwords. Even if there was just a chance of a breach, it's still best practice to change your passwords regularly," said cybersecurity analyst Jack Whitsitt. "Any company that is not yet being open with its customers about what's happening with regard to security events is doing themselves a disservice. What is also concerning is that, at least anecdotally, many people don't remember or realize they have an ISP email address and so, if someone were to use theirs, would they even realize it?"

Whitsitt was referring to the fact that all Comcast customers have a master email account, and that this account is used to manage subscriber settings and payment transactions for all cable services. After gaining access to that account, a hacker could use the master email address to share information and control of the account with other parties.

A reporter for ZDNet, Violet Blue, publicly scolded Comcast in a blog post late Sunday night for not being more aggressive in its response to last week's attack. Blue likened Comcast's response to an attempt by Snapchat to downplay its own battle with hackers just over a month ago.

In addition, Blue pointed out that NullCrew FTS, the group claiming credit for the Comcast attack, also claimed responsibility for a similar assault on BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) two weekends ago. So this may be the start of a hacking campaign against North American broadband service providers.

A Comcast spokesperson insisted, though, that the MSO has matters under control. "We take our customers' privacy and security very seriously," he said in an email response to Light Reading late Monday. "We have aggressively investigated this incident and have found no evidence to suggest any customer information was obtained.”

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
gconnery
50%
50%
gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/13/2014 | 1:28:14 AM
Re: Data
Agreed.  Anyone who has followed the details of the recent Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels hacking is aware of the normal progression...  at first the company minimizes the number of customers that were affected (only in store purchasers and a small number of them at bat) then that number is increased as forensic security goes to work and realizes more about what is going on (well, actually some online customers were affected too and now the total number affected is 3 times the earlier number, but hey its only email addresses and credit cards with no PINs) then more information is discovered and the numbers go up again (sorry that last count was too small, and oh, it looks like the encryption we used wasn't very good so the PINs were probably accessed too).  For Comcast to pretend up front that they know everything is fine when they don't really know anything at all is ridiculous. 


Good post Mari.  People should change their Comcast passwords.  I just did.  Have you paid your Comcast bill online with a credit card?  Pay attention to this story.
Ashu001
100%
0%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Lightning
2/11/2014 | 9:24:34 AM
Re: Data
KBode,

That itself should ring a Bell-That something is very fishy here.

Why is a Company which is usually very Transparent and upfront of its Upgrades,etc ;Staying Silent here?

Definitely merits a closer Look.

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Lightning
2/11/2014 | 9:22:35 AM
Re: Data
kq4ym,

You have illustrated the Conrundrum that the Likes of Comcast has to face here very effectively.

While they do have a fiduciary responsibility towards their Clients to tell them the truth and reality of the situation at hand here they also have to be responsible towards their Owners and Shareholders and not do something which will damage their Brand Image irreperabably.

Its a Difficult Balancing Act to maintain for sure.

Regards

Ashish.
kq4ym
100%
0%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/11/2014 | 7:59:28 AM
Re: Data
It did seem a bit curious when Comcast said no infomation was taken from customer data. On one hand, you would think they would be honest enought to provide the truth of the matter, on the other Comcast wants to protect it's brand and image. It will be no surprise though to eventually find that Comcast was not quite correct in it's assessment of the hack.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/11/2014 | 7:32:11 AM
Data
The problem is I'm not sure Comcast knows if data was obtained. The NullCrew post didn't contain user data, but it explained how to obtain private data for a period of up to 24 hours. Comcast has been great in discussing network upgrades publicly and openly (like DNSSec) but was pretty quiet about this.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
Between the CEOs
Affirmed Networks CEO: Digging Into NFV

5|28|15   |   40:26   |   (2) comments


Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
Charter Seals Deals for TWC, Bright House
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/26/2015
Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent Trials 400G in Czech Republic
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/26/2015
Will Carriers Follow Facebook's Networking Lead?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/28/2015
Charter Plans Business Services, Wireless Push
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/27/2015
Facebook Reinvents Data Center Networking
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
On May 29th 1 PM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM for NFV at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!
Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
Cats with Phones