Behind the scenes of doing the right thing

2012-05-15 by jkouns Behind_the_scenes_austriatitle01

From time to time, the Open Security Foundation is contacted about security vulnerabilities and data breaches that have yet to be made public. We always strive to handle each report in the most appropriate way possible and wanted to share with you an example from last year. In March of 2011, we had a breach anonymously submitted to DataLossDB without any further way to contact the submitter, but enough information for us to work on verifying and relaying the issue to the affected company.

From the initial look of things, it appeared that job applicants' names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and resumes were accessible and even editable on the Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) website without requiring a login. You could browse to their resume website and increment the ResumeID=x field in the URL making it trivial to enumerate and access approximately 300 applicants personal information.

We contacted CSC as soon as the incident was submitted to see if they would speak to us or at least provide a response. At first it appeared that they ignored our emails and we were getting a bit concerned as several days went by without a response. However, once we escalated to a phone call, we were then able to discuss the issue with the proper contacts and the vulnerability was fixed within 48 hours. We also spoke with their lawyer and they stated that they would notify those affected and get back to us with a statement.

Here is the statement from CSC:

-------------------------- Original Message --------------------------

Last month, CSC was contacted by Open Security Foundation ("OSF") who had received an anonymous tip that an Internet-accessible Web site CSC had set up for a recruiting effort had security issues. Upon internal investigation, it was determined that the site created in 2006 was unintentionally architected in such a way as to allow for url manipulation once a person created a profile for themselves, giving them the ability to see other person's resume information. CSC has no evidence that anyone other than the original anonymous tipster and those associated with OSF actually had access to resume information. This site was not properly de-provisioned and remained accessible until 2011 (although the last resume received was in September 2010). The contents, however, were not indexed or searchable by Google. There were approximately 300 profiles created with varying amounts of personal information provided. Although CSC did not ask for or require birth dates or Social Security Numbers, eight people provided either one or both. One person provided the last four digits of a SSN. CSC will provide formal notification as required by state law. In addition, where there is no state requirement, CSC will nonetheless send letters to inform everyone about the vulnerability.

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Due to our delay, we have just now pushed this incident live and wanted to thank the anonymous submitter for providing us the information so we could responsibly report it and to CSC for responding to the breach appropriately.

To be clear, after we spoke with CSC on the phone and were able to get connected to the right people they responded promptly, did a thorough investigation, and then to our knowledge notified everyone. Our delay in posting this update and pushing the incident live in no way is an indication one way or the other about CSC. In fact, it just highlights the continued challenges for the Open Security Foundation to keep up with the massive amount of breaches that continue to occur every day.

In addition, we thought we would post this particular example to share some of the work that happens behind the scenes at OSF, that many people would never know exists. Coordinating with organization such as this can take a great deal of time and patience on both sides. Whenever possible and practical we do go out of our way to alert entities to breaches, but at other times we unfortunately just have to post the breach. We would love to contact all entities to confirm they are aware of the incident and offer assistance but this is not possible. For example, while we may from time to time we don’t typically contact organizations for breaches when the data is posted publicly such as when information is dumped to Pastebin or other paste sites. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient staff to always do that and some sites do not make it easy to contact them.

We would love to be able to do more with the project, but unfortunately just have not been able to get the support or volunteers required. Moving forward, we will be making changes with the project to help ensure our future. This will begin with a new partnership with Risk Based Security, which will be able to bring more resources to better support the project and continue our research.

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