[RC5] SETI security breach

blitz blitz at macronet.net
Fri Jun 1 04:29:03 EDT 2001


Glad this wasn't us...

                               SETI at Home - Distributed Computing Security 
Breach
                               contributed by Halsey Burgund
                               (May 31, 2001 11:59 am EST)

                               SETI at Home, the distributed computing 
initiative that uses
                               idle CPU time on thousands of volunteer's 
computers to sift
                               through radio data in search of signs of 
extra-terrestrial life,
                               was compromised over the Memorial Day 
weekend. The
                               attackers intercepted email information and 
usage statistics of
                               more than 50,000 SETI at Home users, and sent 
out spam to
                               these participants.

                               Although there was minimal damage done in 
this particular
                               attack, the breach does bring up concerns 
about the security
                               of distributed computing in general. 
Distributed computing is a
                               cost effective method of aggregating and 
putting to use
                               massive amounts of computing power, but the 
very nature of
                               the technique introduces significant 
security challenges. If these
                               issues are not addressed appropriately, 
people won't play
                               unless the benefits outweigh the risks.

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