Symantec’s identity theft protection service, LifeLock, exposed millions of customers’ email addresses.
According to security journalist Brian Krebs, the LifeLock vulnerability was in the company’s website, and it enabled unauthorized third parties to collect email addresses associated with LifeLock user accounts or unsubscribe users from communications from the company. Account numbers, called subscriber keys, appear in the URL of the unsubscribe page on the LifeLock website that correspond to a customer record and appear to be sequential, according to Krebs, and that lends itself to writing a simple script to collect the email address of every subscriber.
The biggest threat with this LifeLock vulnerability is attackers could launch a targeted phishing scheme — and the company boasted more than 4.5 million users as of January 2017.
“The upshot of this weakness is that cyber criminals could harvest the data and use it in targeted phishing campaigns that spoof LifeLock’s brand,” Krebs wrote. “Of course, phishers could spam the entire world looking for LifeLock customers without the aid of this flaw, but nevertheless the design of the company’s site suggests that whoever put it together lacked a basic understanding of web site authentication and security.”
Krebs notified Symantec of the LifeLock vulnerability, and the security company took the affected webpage offline shortly thereafter. Krebs said he was alerted to the issue by Atlanta-based independent security researcher Nathan Reese, a former LifeLock subscriber who received an email offering him a discount if he renewed his membership. Reese then wrote a proof of concept and was able to collect 70 email addresses — enough to prove the LifeLock vulnerability worked.
Reese emphasized to Krebs how easy it would be for a malicious actor to use the two things he knows about the LifeLock customers — their email addresses and the fact that they use an identity theft protection service — to create a “sharp spear” for a spear phishing campaign, particularly because LifeLock customers are already concerned about cybersecurity.
Symantec, which acquired the identity theft protection company in 2016, issued a statement after Krebs published his report on the LifeLock vulnerability:
This issue was not a vulnerability in the LifeLock member portal. The issue has been fixed and was limited to potential exposure of email addresses on a marketing page, managed by a third party, intended to allow recipients to unsubscribe from marketing emails. Based on our investigation, aside from the 70 email address accesses reported by the researcher, we have no indication at this time of any further suspicious activity on the marketing opt-out page.
LifeLock has faced problems in the past with customer data. In 2015, the company paid out $100 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that it allegedly failed to secure customers’ personal data and ran deception advertising.
In other news:
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California said Amazon’s facial recognition program, Rekognition, falsely identified 28 members of Congress as people who were arrested for a crime in its recent test. The ACLU put together a database of 25,000 publicly available mugshots and ran the database against every current member of the House and Senate using the default Rekognition settings. The false matches represented a disproportionate amount of people of color — 40% of the false matches, while only 20% of Congress members are people of color — and spanned both Democrats and Republicans and men and women of all ages. One of the falsely identified individuals was Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus; Lewis previously wrote a letter to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, expressing concern for the potential implications of the inaccuracy of Rekognition and how it could affect law enforcement and, particularly, people of color.
- Researchers have discovered another Spectre vulnerability variant that enables attackers to access sensitive data. The new exploit, called SpectreRSB, was detailed by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, in a paper titled, “Spectre Returns! Speculation Attacks using the Return Stack Buffer.” “Rather than exploiting the branch predictor unit, SpectreRSB exploits the return stack buffer (RSB), a common predictor structure in modern CPUs used to predict return addresses,” the research team wrote. The RSB aspect of the exploit is what’s new, compared with Spectre and its other variants. It’s also why it is, so far, unfixed by any of the mitigations put in place by Intel, Google and others. The researchers tested SpectreRSB on Intel Haswell and Skylake processors and the SGX2 secure enclave in Core i7 Skylake chips.
- Google Chrome implemented its new policy this week that any website not using HTTPS with a valid TLS certificate will be marked as “not secure.” In the latest version of the browser, Google Chrome version 68, users will see a warning message stating that the site in not secure. Google first announced the policy in February. “Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default,” Emily Schechter, Chrome Security product manager, wrote in the announcement. “HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.”