Hackers steal server logins from hosting vendor

Layered Technologies' database breached, 6,000 customers' servers compromised

Server hosting vendor Layered Technologies admitted this week that hackers broke into its support database and made off with as many as 6,000 client records, including login information that could give criminals access to clients' servers.

The Plano, Texas company, which operates a pair of data centers that hold the physical servers it manages for clients, said the break-in happened sometime Monday night. "The Layered Technologies support database was a target of malicious activity on the evening of 9/17/2007 that may have involved the illegal downloading of information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and server login details for 5 to 6,000 of our clients," the firm's CEO, Todd Abrams, wrote on the company blog Tuesday.

According to other information posted on the blog, the database was reached through a vulnerability in a Web-based application used by Layered's help desk. After hacking the Web application, the criminals next accessed the support database. "This allowed them to then view tickets and their contents," said someone identified as Jeremy using the moniker of "LTADMIN."

"This attack was done using an open protocol (http) which allowed them to then get into the database," Jeremy added.

One commenter to Abrams' post said he was with software developer WebGroup Media, and acknowledged the vulnerability was in his company's Cerberus Helpdesk. "I've extended my help to the LT team," said Jeff Standen, the lead developer of the program and WebGroup's chief of research and development. "We're vigilant about any security reports that pop-up, we're aiming to close any potential exploits before they get that far."

Layered said that no payment details, such as credit card numbers, were stolen; that information is stored in a database separate from the support center.

But with server login details compromised, Abrams urged customers to change their credentials immediately. "We are asking all of our clients to change the login credentials for all host details they have submitted in the past two years," Abrams said. "This includes any login credentials for all servers you own and operate with LT, all services that may have submitted passwords in the past for such as Webmail, Remote Desktop, SSH, MySQL, cPanel WHM, FTP Backup storage or similar services."

Abrams also said that Layered was adding additional security measures, but did not elaborate.

Ironically, Layered Technologies touts a service it's dubbed "Safety Net," which for an extra US$5 per server per month, covers all costs for reloading an operating system or for any bandwidth overages if the managed server is hacked. Abrams' blog said nothing about how it might compensate customers for the database hack, or any subsequent breach of a client's server.

The company did not return calls requesting comment.

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