back to article CIA traitor spy thrown in the clink for selling secrets to China. Stack Overflow, TeamViewer admit: We were hacked...

Here's a quick catch-up of all things infosec beyond what we've already reported this week. Stack Overflow becomes Hack, oh no, no! Popular programmer watering-hole Stack Overflow revealed on Friday it was hacked by a miscreant on May 5. The cyber-intruder was discovered six days later when they tried to gain more privileges …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge

    team viewer

    I remember talk of TV (the app) as having been compromised. I didn't find the answer provided by TV as reassuring. How cool is it that non-disclosure of the breach was spun as being a 'good' thing. Just like in the name of 'National Security'. Anything flies these days it seems.

    1. Mark Allen

      Re: team viewer

      Yeah... not telling anyone about a hack is always a good idea for Share Holders and Protection of Profits.

      Digs into El'Reg search back to June 2016

      "the biz said. "There is no security breach at TeamViewer."

      It was the was the last straw for me, I took my subscriptions elsewhere. Especially after a few other issues I had with them. This level of dishonest is not on, and I also thought it was illegal now? Anyone going to sue them?

      1. streaky

        Re: team viewer

        Yeah I recall it very clearly - at the time systems were being compromised and teamviewer took pains to make it clear that they weren't compromised. Class action seems to be the only way to resolve this.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: team viewer

      In general I'd agree with you: if there is nothing to hide, then get it out in the open. However, it does depend upon the attack and what exactly was compromised and, if no user data was compromised then disclosure could be misinterpreted. And, the degree of disclosure will indeed sometimes be coordinated with the authorities while investigations continue.

      1. quxinot

        Re: team viewer

        TeamViewer has been making their product worse with each version, so no surprise that the backend isn't any better.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: team viewer

        ""Our systems detected the suspicious activities in time to prevent any major damage," TeamViewer's comms director Martina Dier claimed in an email to The Register."

        This can mean so many things...

        i.e. we noticed our development/test systems were hacked when we had problems migrating things to production. Closer examination revealed that no production users were affected apart from old data we used for testing. We had not tools to monitor active attacks but fortunately stumbled upon this one. Hopefully things are better now.

        Or it could mean they have robust systems in-place that detected the attack, notified staff who monitored the attack closely before shutting it down and ensuring systems were not affected by the attacks.

        Given many of the publicised attacks over recent years, I would need evidence it was the latter as when details leak, it is typically the former.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: a Good Thing

      Also remember how TeamViewer was so adamant that they weren't hacked, while users were getting unauthorized Amazon bills from their TeamViewer-started purchase sessions?

      Oh yes. I could hope that users sue, just to send a lesson, but I doubt such a thing will happen.

    4. macjules

      Our systems detected the suspicious activities in time to prevent any major damage

      If their systems can 'detect' suspicious activity then why didn't they stop it completely, not just ' in time to prevent any major damage'?

  2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Need for accounts ?

    This is actually a good example of why the pervading concept of an account is a Bad Thing.

    There is literally nothing valuable in a SO account other than the personal information used to define the account itself. The worst possible outcome of someone stealing your login is the possible loss of reputation if their use of it reflects badly on you. But you have personal contact information in there that they might steal and use elsewhere.

    All SO should really have is an ID that you can prove ownership of - perhaps with a key pair. If that were used, there would be no need to contact those 250 users because SO would have had nothing valuable to be stolen.

    So why do these accounts exist ? Perhaps because of history. Perhaps because someone wants to collect identities with a view to some future monetisation. I don't know,

    El reg, why don't you accept a public key login instead of holding my email contact details ?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Need for accounts ?

      One major reason is to provide an extra obstacle to the mass creation of accounts. Since each account needs a unique email address, a spammer would need to create separate addresses for each account created. Yes, they could set up a mailserver and have a nearly infinite supply of those, but a monitor could notice this and ban all addresses under the domain they're using. So that means they have to use publicly available accounts, most of which have some method of preventing a very large number of accounts from being set up in short order or by one user. This also lets them report things should a user do something like break the law, and provides them a method of communicating with the user if the user needs to, for example resetting the password, informing of data breaches, etc. Most of this would not work anymore given a key-based authentication system, so people don't do it so often.

  3. Blockchain commentard

    Slack fixes

    Warwick Davis (from Tenable) is now doing cyber security? Not enough Ewok work then?

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Slack fixes

      Why not, surely Willow isn't the first wizard in this field.

      1. -teacup ordinance

        Re: Slack fixes

        Shirley you meant Shirley...

    2. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: Slack fixes


      You can blow about £1800 per year and point your own Nessus (nee Net Saint, now written by a company called Tenable) at your targets for (say) a PCI DSS compliance report.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Retirement isn't what it used to be

    "Former CIA intelligence officer Kevin Patrick Mallory, 62, of Leesburg, Virginia, was sent down for two decades on Friday for selling American national defense secrets to a Chinese spy."

    The things Americans have to do to make sure they have a roof over their head in their old days...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Retirement isn't what it used to be

      "This case is one in an alarming trend of former US intelligence officers being targeted by China and betraying their country and colleagues."

      was followed immediately in the article by this:

      "The US Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity officials, who are supposed to keep hackers out of Uncle Sam's systems, have been reportedly pressured to set their day jobs aside and go defend the US-Mexico border..."

      What can we do to round out the trifecta started by insufficient compensation and managerial incompetence?

    2. Daedalus

      Re: Retirement isn't what it used to be

      Let's face it, the real reason he did it was probably because his bosses were just brown-nosing chair warmers dedicated to screwing over their subordinates. Loyalty is a two-way street.

  5. Def Silver badge


    He was also spotted scanning secret and top-secret materials onto a microSD card in a FedEx store…

    I’m surprised he wasn’t spotted faxing them.

    1. Def Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Seriously?

      Actually, something that occurred to me earlier in the day...

      Do scanners add microdots for identification purposes to the images they scan, did he know this, and is that why he was using a public service?

      1. LeahroyNake

        Re: Seriously?

        Very good question and I'm certainly going to test it out!

        For those that don't already know modern laser office copiers add an almost invisible yellow dot pattern to all prints and copies that can be traced back to the serial number of the machine. If you have a 25x magnification tool you can see it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now Trump has the excuse to ban Samsung from the US as well.

  7. MrKrotos


    Wow, so glad I changed to Remote Utilities back when there was talk of TeamViewer being hacked. Talk about lie through your teeth!

    They deserve to die a long slow death!

    1. Hans 1

      Re: TeamViewer

      Is TeamViewer not a man in the middle-kingdom by default ?

  8. ThinningBarnet

    Team Viewer, Tame Doer

    "We came to the joint conclusion that informing our users was not necessary and would have been counterproductive to the effective prosecution of the attackers."

    Hmm. So I wonder, how's that prosecution going along?

  9. -teacup ordinance

    Stack Overflow becomes Hack, oh no, no --> anxiety causes anxiety

    "the hacker broke into production systems via an insecure development build".

    so the build was 'insecure' and got bullied into giving up the info ?

    on top of my own disorders I now have to keep track of those for my dev spaces...

  10. Big Al 23

    It's amazing people will give up their freedom...

    ...for money. 20 years in prison will give this man lots of time to think about the cost of treason. Not so long ago he would have been shot for treason.

  11. hoola Silver badge


    And you have total confidence that what you have replaced it with has not been hacked, compromised or is vulnerable. These problems only appear IF they are disclosed or someone finds out.

    The very nature of all these remote support applications is a security pain in the arse, however you look at it.

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