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RedHotAnt in security trouble, again

handing out passwords this time...

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RedHotAnt has clearly never heard of social engineering as a hacking technique.The Register has been informed that the company's tech support team seems to have no qualms about revealing a user's password to a caller without confirming his or her identity.

Upon calling RHA tech support to make an enquiry about the company's web site, RHA user, and Register reader, Simon Cooper was asked for his user ID and password. Being a security conscious fellow, he declined to give his password out over the phone.

Standard telephone security procedure at RHA is to ask for a user ID, the first line of the address and a post code to confirm identity.

Simon was thus astonished when, without requesting any information other than his user ID, the RHA employee proceeded to read his password back to him and asked him to confirm it.

He wasn't impressed with this, nor by her reassurances that he 'should not worry as there is no harm that people with access to my password could do.'

"Outside accessing my website, my e-mails, assuming my identity and causing widespread fraud under my name I guess she's right," says Simon.

Now, to access a RHA account a user must enter a user ID and a numeric "password", so it is true that with a password alone anyone wanting to fraudulently use Mr Cooper's account would have been stymied. But he had given his user ID too, and no attempt to verify his identity had been made.

"I could have left my ID written on a piece of paper somewhere. There was no way she could have been certain it was me," Mr Cooper told us. "It is like calling a bank with a ten digit account number and them giving you the pin number to access the account on the strength of that information."

We asked RedHotAnt to explain how this could have happened, but as yet, it has been unable to comment beyond reasserting its position that with only a password there is no way anyone could have accessed Mr Cooper's account.®

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