Computerworld - Security experts discovered a flaw this week in the Web site operated by Verizon Wireless that potentially exposed the private customer information of those who used the Web site to view their personal cell phone bills.
Marc Slemko, a Seattle-based software developer, posted the warning Sept. 1 on the BugTraq security mailing list after notifying Verizon of the problem on Aug. 19 and receiving no response. Half a dozen other security experts later confirmed his findings.
The privacy hole affected users who logged on to the Verizon Wireless Web site and used the My Account feature to view or change their cell phone billing and account information. The Web site address for the feature assigns session identifications sequentially as each user logs in. The IDs are valid until the user logs out or the session times out. However, because it's the only session ID used, Slemko said it's easy to manually access the account of other users by guessing their session IDs. In addition, "automated tools [can] grab this information in bulk as users login over time," he wrote.
The vulnerability put at risk such information as names, addresses, records of calls placed and received, along with the phone number and approximate location of the user when the call was made, according to Slemko and others.
Brian Wood, a spokesman for Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless, said IT workers at the company fixed the hole as of 5 a.m. EDT yesterday. When asked why it took Verizon so long to act on Slemko's Aug. 19 alert, Wood said Slemko didn't properly "escalate" his query.
"You have five different options to contact us on the Web site. His e-mail apparently went into the normal e-mail box and was handled by a front-line customer service representative," said Wood. "It kind of got bogged down in the system." However, Wood also said previous security tests run by Verizon on the site hadn't uncovered the flaw.
Wood said the flaw affected only a portion of the users who signed up for online billing. The hole was never an issue for former customers of Bell Atlantic Mobile, GTE Wireless, AirTouch Cellular or PrimeCo Personal Communications -- the companies that now make up Verizon Wireless.
"We've not seen any evidence that someone might have taken advantage of this hole," he said.
However, Verizon, which serves more than 28 million wireless customers, isn't alone in suffering from predictable online session IDs, according to a study presented at last month's 10th annual Usenix security conference by Kevin Fu and two other researchers at the MIT Laboratory for
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Infographic: Converged Infrastructure Benefits This Infographic quantifies the savings organizations are realizing from increased deployment speed, higher availability, and lower annual costs.
- CIOs Deliver Productivity Breakthroughs with Intelligent Digital Signage Retailers have long recognized the influence that digital signage provides over a shopper's point-of-purchase decision making process.
- Going Paperless? Here's What You Need to Think About As makers of some of the world's most popular PDF solutions, we often consult with businesses & governmental agencies that have the goal...
- The Big Data Opportunity for HR and Finance If CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CHROs want to drive their businesses forward, they will need to quickly recognize the enormous value of big...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!