[Mailman-Developers] bugtraq submission warning: email address harvesting exploit

Bernhard Kuemel darsie at gmx.at
Tue Nov 25 15:06:43 EST 2003

Richard Barrett wrote:
>> Since your answer is the only one and the problem does not appear to  
>> be addressed sufficiently I wrote an example exploit program that  
>> finds mailman lists and harvests their email addresses. After about 
>> 20  minutes it collected about 30.000 email addresses:  
>> http://bksys.at/bernhard/30,000%20email%20addresses.gz
> I am just a spectator but this doesn't look like a major contribution  
> to the Open Source movement by you.

You are right. It is a small contribution. I also filed a PHP bug 
today. Another small contribution. Makes 2 today. But not all 
days are as productive as this one.

> As a way of getting your code and ideas adopted it is one hell of an  
> approach.

Well, I'm not sure if a graphical turing test makes up for the 
drawbacks I mentioned so I'm not sure it will make it to mailman. 
But I'm glad that the email harvesting problem get's some 
attention now.

> A better approach might be to work up a patch for the current Mailman  
> release that will demonstrably function in practice (how are we going  
> to manage all those images your original "Turing test"  proposal will  
> lead to) and submit that like any other contributor.

It would probably be more efficient if some who are familiar with 
the mailman code fixed its "security flaws". Also we first need 
to find out what should be done about it. A graphical turing test 
may rule out users of non graphical web browsers and maybe we can 
come up with something bettter. Implementing it prematurely might 
be a waste of human resources.

> You can program in Perl so using Python should be a snap for a clever fellow like you.

Maybe. However, I don't like python as on our old P60 server it 
burned up so much CPU time (15 s/min). I can also program in C so 
I could probably fix the PHP bug as well. However, I do not 
always feel like doing everything, especially if the others don't 
like it.

> But I confess if it were for me to decide on a response to your threats,

I was looking for a better word than 'warning', however, none of 
the alternatives seemed to fit. Also I tried to make my 
announcement of my bugtraq post as little offensive as possible. 
If you are a native english speaker maybe you can show me an even 
better way.

> which it is not, I'd say sex and travel fits the bill.

Well, well, if you prefer some hints about sex over my bug 
reports maybe we should change the forum. About travelling, if 
you want you can join next European Rainbow gathering, my every 
year summer highlight. See my rainbow website for details: 
http://rainbow.bksys.at .

>> Have a nice day,
> There's irony for you.

That was not meant ironically. Hmm, maybe 'cheers' would have 
been less ambigous, but only '(kind) regards' came to my mind at 
that time and that sounded too formal to me. Other suggestions?

Cheers, Bernhard

Webspace; Low end Serverhousing ab 15 e, etc.: http://www.bksys.at
Linux Admin/Programmierer: http://bksys.at/bernhard/services.html

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