Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Glitch on Verizon Wireless Web Site Left Data at Risk

Filed under
Security

Verizon Wireless said yesterday that computer programming flaws in its online billing system could have allowed customers to view account information belonging to other customers, possibly exposing limited personal information about millions of people.

A spokesman for the Bedminster, N.J., company, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, declined to say how many of the company's 45 million subscriber accounts were at risk. Verizon Wireless said the problem appeared to be limited to accounts for customers in the eastern United States who had signed up for its "My Account" feature.

There was no indication that anyone took advantage of the flaws or that any customer financial information, such as Social Security or credit card account numbers, was disclosed, Verizon Wireless spokesman Tom Pica said. The flaws also did not allow access to phone numbers associated with customers' incoming and outgoing calls, and "no customer data could be manipulated and changed in any way," Pica said.

Verizon Wireless said it had corrected the problem as of 2 a.m. yesterday. Pica said the company was still assessing whether it would notify customers about the situation.

The "My Account" feature has been available on the Verizon Wireless Web site for five years. Pica said the company does not yet know how long the flawed coding had been in place.

Pica confirmed the Web site flaw could have allowed a user to view another subscriber's balance of remaining airtime minutes and the number of minutes that customer had used in the current billing cycle. Two other flaws could have exposed data about a customer's general location -- city and state -- and the make and model of phone the customer uses, Pica said.

The flaw that exposed account information was reported to Verizon Wireless by Jonathan Zdziarski, a software developer from Milledgeville, Ga., who said he discovered it while writing a computer program that would automatically query his account online and report the number of minutes he had used from his wireless plan.

Zdziarski found that by simply entering another subscriber's wireless phone number on a particular portion of the site, he could pull up some information about that person's account.
Pica said the flaws did not expose customer account balances or latest payment information. But Zdziarski provided washingtonpost.com with a screenshot showing that the vulnerabilities exposed account balances and the date of the most recent payment, a claim that Pica said the company could not confirm.

After Zdziarski's alert, Verizon Wireless technicians reviewed other portions of the company's billing system and fixed one flaw but disabled the feature that allowed viewing of customer location until technicians could figure out a way to secure it, according to Pica.
Zdziarski said he later conducted other tests and found that the problem he discovered also could be exploited to transfer one customer's account to another handset, a technique known as "cloning."

The user of a cloned phone can intercept all of the victim's incoming wireless calls and make calls that would be billed to the victim's account. Zdziarski said he was prevented from fully testing whether the flaw could be used to clone Verizon Wireless phones because the service that allows customers to map existing phone numbers to new handsets appeared to be offline when he reported the flaw.

"This was a very easy hack to do," Zdziarski said. "I'm sure if I've discovered it, then certainly your typical 'script kiddie' could figure it out."

Pica said company technicians were unable to reproduce the phone-cloning scenario described by Zdziarski.

One of Verizon Wireless's competitors, Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile International, disclosed in January that a security hole in its Web site exposed data on at least 400 customers, including a Secret Service agent. This year, a group of hackers used other flaws in T-Mobile's site to break into the phones of dozens of celebrities in an incident that exposed racy photographs and personal notes and contacts for hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton.

By Brian Krebs
The Washington Post

More in Tux Machines

OpenSUSE fonts – The sleeping beauty guide

Pandora’s box of fonts is one of the many ailments of the distro world. As long as we do not have standards, and some rather strict ones at that, we will continue to suffer from bad fonts, bad contrast, bad ergonomics, and in general, settings that are not designed for sustained, prolonged use. It’s a shame, because humans actually use computers to interface with information, to READ text and interpret knowledge using the power of language. It’s the most critical element of the whole thing. OpenSUSE under-delivers on two fonts – anti-aliasing and hinting options that are less than ideal, and then it lacks the necessary font libraries to make a relevant, modern and pleasing desktop for general use. All of this can be easily solved if there’s more attention, love and passion for the end product. After all, don’t you want people to be spending a lot of time interacting, using and enjoying the distro? Hopefully, one day, all this will be ancient history. We will be able to choose any which system and never worry or wonder how our experience is going to be impacted by the choice of drivers, monitors, software frameworks, or even where we live. For the time being, if you intend on using openSUSE, this little guide should help you achieve a better, smoother, higher-quality rendering of fonts on the screen, allowing you to enjoy the truly neat Plasma desktop to the fullest. Oh, in the openSUSE review, I promised we would handle this, and handle it we did! Take care. Read more

Today in Techrights

Direct Rendering Manager and VR HMDs Under Linux

  • Intel Prepping Support For Huge GTT Pages
    Intel OTC developers are working on support for huge GTT pages for their Direct Rendering Manager driver.
  • Keith Packard's Work On Better Supporting VR HMDs Under Linux With X.Org/DRM
    Earlier this year Keith Packard started a contract gig for Valve working to improve Linux's support for virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR HMDs). In particular, working on Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) and X.Org changes needed so VR HMDs will work well under Linux with the non-NVIDIA drivers. A big part of this work is the concept of DRM leases, a new Vulkan extension, and other changes to the stack.

Software: Security Tools, cmus, Atom-IDE, Skimmer Scanner

  • Security Tools to Check for Viruses and Malware on Linux
    First and foremost, no operating system is 100 percent immune to attack. Whether a machine is online or offline, it can fall victim to malicious code. Although Linux is less prone to such attacks than, say, Windows, there is no absolute when it comes to security. I have witnessed, first hand, Linux servers hit by rootkits that were so nasty, the only solution was to reinstall and hope the data backup was current. I’ve been a victim of a (very brief) hacker getting onto my desktop, because I accidentally left desktop sharing running (that was certainly an eye opener). The lesson? Even Linux can be vulnerable. So why does Linux need tools to prevent viruses, malware, and rootkits? It should be obvious why every server needs protection from rootkits — because once you are hit with a rootkit, all bets are off as to whether you can recover without reinstalling the platform. It’s antivirus and anti-malware where admins start getting a bit confused. Let me put it simply — if your server (or desktop for that matter) makes use of Samba or sshfs (or any other sharing means), those files will be opened by users running operating systems that are vulnerable. Do you really want to take the chance that your Samba share directory could be dishing out files that contain malicious code? If that should happen, your job becomes exponentially more difficult. Similarly, if that Linux machine performs as a mail server, you would be remiss to not include AV scanning (lest your users be forwarding malicious mail).
  • cmus – A Small, Fast And Powerful Console Music Player For Linux
    You may ask a question yourself when you see this article. Is it possible to listen music in Linux terminal? Yes because nothing is impossible in Linux. We have covered many popular GUI-based media players in our previous articles but we didn’t cover any CLI based media players as of now, so today we are going to cover about cmus, is one of the famous console-based media players among others (For CLI, very few applications is available in Linux).
  • You Can Now Transform the Atom Hackable Text Editor into an IDE with Atom-IDE
    GitHub and Facebook recently launched a set of tools that promise to allow you to transform your Atom hackable text editor into a veritable IDE (Integrated Development Environment). They call the project Atom-IDE. With the release of Atom 1.21 Beta last week, GitHub introduced Language Server Protocol support to integrate its brand-new Atom-IDE project, which comes with built-in support for five popular language servers, including JavaScript, TypeScript, PHP, Java, C#, and Flow. But many others will come with future Atom updates.
  • This open-source Android app is designed to detect nearby credit card skimmers
    Protecting our data is a constant battle, especially as technology continues to advance. A recent trend that has popped up is the installation of credit card skimmers, especially at locations such as gas pumps. With a simple piece of hardware and 30 seconds to install it, a hacker can easily steal credit card numbers from a gas pump without anyone knowing. Now, an open-source app for Android is attempting to help users avoid these skimmers.