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14.Nov.2002
Chris Hodges (E-Mail)


Offensive Elbox driver and consequences for Poseidon
Chris Hodges writes:

Dear Poseidon Users,

in the last few days, there were rumours posted to ann.lu, claiming that the usb.device, that is provided by Elbox Computer Inc. for the Spider USB PCI card would contain malicious code. This code was posted disassembled on various websites. This source code, if assemblied into an executable, would indeed have the ability to kill the RDB (if it was found in block 0). Code destroying data on purpose like this is illegal in most countries (including Germany) and moreover, is one of the ethically worst things I've ever seen.

As the source of this security warning was an anonymous poster and therefore was not reliable, I wanted to check for myself. So I loaded the usb.device (some friendly Mediator user sent me, as Elbox never offered me a SpiderCD to check the contents of the CD), let it decrypt itself and just searched for the 'RDSK' string in the driver (as seen on the disassembled source code on the websites). No disassembly was used. The string was found. I could therefore verify that the offensive code is at least in version 1.2 of the device, I had here to test (there is absolutely NO reason why 'RDSK' would appear in an usb hardware device driver).

I gave Elbox the chance to clear things up in public by posting an apology and removing the code. They didn't. Instead, they said that all my "doubts" would be answered in the press statement released yesterday and ignored the consequences that I already had proposed to them.

Well, my "doubts", which actually are facts, that I could see with my own eyes, remain. Any Mediator user can check this by using a memory monitor and searching for the usb.device in memory (after loading up Poseidon) and see, if there's the 'RDSK' ID string within the next 10000 bytes.

As a consequence, I have to warn Mediator users that their machine is in danger, when running the usb.device. In the non-memory protected Amiga environment it might get damaged at any time and then cause the routine that kills the RDB to become active. The next update of Poseidon will refuse to load up the usb.device, if it detects malicious code. This is to protect yourself from damage and myself from being held liable for any loss of data or damage done.

Moreover, I hereby withdraw the permission to include Poseidon in ELBOX's software distributions, until they
  1. admit, that the code was in their driver,
  2. admit, that they have constantly lied to the users,
  3. have placed a public apology for the first time in their life,
  4. and have removed any malicious code.
I don't want Poseidon to be included with third party software, that's highly illegal and whose originators don't deserve any trust.

I do understand that people try to protect their work from being hacked. I do this too, but not by risking the data of legal users and I cannot tolerate this offensive behaviour any longer (I admit, I'm again rather upset and therefore this statement is not as objective as it could have been).

The Spider users out there are adviced to confront Elbox with the demands mentioned above, so to allow Poseidon again accept the usb.device driver.

I hope that you believe the facts and my worries and understand the steps taken. (ps)

[News message: 14. Nov. 2002, 17:45] [Comments: 1 - 15. Nov. 2002, 01:01]
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