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Reports | Security Related April Fools 2003 Roundup
{1st Apr 2003}
April 1st, the time for journalists to make up stories, website designers to redirect their sites, and everyone else to try and sort out fact from fiction.

From its traditional French roots in 1562, April the 1st has now truly evolved embracing the digital age in its stride.  This year was certainly an eventful one, but blink and you would have missed it.  April fools started appearing as early as the preceding morning from some publications, which had the desired effect of successfully confusing a number of people, especially those eagerly awaiting them the next day.

2600 duly followed tradition redirecting its site, this time to the address http://www.2600.gov@207.99.30.232/ no doubt trying to confuse the less internet savvy user of their 'gov' status.  The IP address sported a number of audio clips (embedded in flash animation files), along with the message "2600.COM is now the property of the United States Government - Your address has been logged" parodying the DEA's recent redirect of several domain names to one of their own servers.

The Register, stuck all its eggs in one basket going all out to report the claims of 'Backfire security Inc', who announced the availability of a new "discrete desk-top client application which wreaks revenge on those hackers and culprits attacking your network or infecting users with worms and/or viruses" under the title of "Free software gives hackers taste of own medicine".

backfiresecurity.co.uk only registered on March 28th, was offline by mid-day Tuesday, after being Slashdotted which prompted a 509 (This account has exceeded it's bandwidth quota and has been temporarily disabled) soon after.  The site hosted in Nottingham, was not restored by the time of publication. Backfire had a truly professional look and feel combined with a distinct but plausible lack of content on its front page.  The site required the completion of a short questionnaire, also asking for "Name", "Company", and "Email" the details of which were sent to davide@multimediapr.co.uk using a generic formmail script.  (It is unclear whether theregister.co.uk or multimediaprm.com are behind the site.)

An AT&T labs researcher wrote an utterly pointless and rather long RFC titled "The Security Flag in the IPv4 Header" which requires packets to send a security flag if they are malicious in nature, this can then be recognised by network security devices and used as an easy way to distinguish between malicious, and "unusual" packets.  The RFA prompted a massive overreaction from the Slashot community who though it was such a good idea, that 3 separate items were posted about the RFC alone: New RFC Adds "Evil Bit",  Evil Bit Added to TCP/IP Packets, s, IPv4 Headers Investigated.  Slashdot truly got into the spirit of the occasion, to such an extent it was very difficult to tell what if anything was real news.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an interesting but technically peculiar article about a new programming "Language inspired by Orwell set to fool hackers".

Durham University Computing Society announced "Whitespace", a programming language whose only valid syntax is spaces, tabs and newlines "particularly useful for spies". They are however insisting it is "no April fools joke".

Lastly proving the moderators of Security Focus's Bugtraq mailing list haven't left their sense of humour behind after the recent takeover by Symantec Corp, an alert warning "serious vulnerability present. all doomed." made it into the inboxes of security professionals all around the globe this morning.

It is worth noting, this years April Fools day seems to have hit the security industry harder than most.

Mirrors of 2600 & Backfire security on April 1st 2003 (zip)



Side Notes:

With some stories it is difficult to tell, Feds: Chinese Hack Attacks Likely April fool poking fun at the NIPC or factual article?

Non Security Related April Fools:

TV Week: Is Your Television Watching You?
BBC News: Shock tactics for anti-social mobile use
Think Geek: George Foreman USB iGrill

Surprisingly, this year there appears to have been no response from Google.com, not even a changed logo.
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