MS security glitch allowed access to customer records on web

Ever had Microsoft ship you a CD? You may have been in it...

Microsoft has pulled the plugs on an internal (but er, only sort of) customer services site after it was informed that it could be used to browse the personal data of Microsoft customers. Credit card records weren't available, but it was possible to search for names on the site and obtain personal data such as private phone numbers, addresses and sales records.

Adrian Lamo, who discovered the blooper, told The Register that he'd gained access to the site and that it "allowed anyone anywhere to download personal information about anyone who had placed an order with Microsoft which was fulfilled by mail." Microsoft took the site down swiftly after Lamo informed it of the problem via Newsbytes reporter Brian Krebs.

The site's vulnerability to browsing (one can't really term it hacking) seems to have been caused by somebody at Microsoft forgetting to fit any security at all to it. The security, such as it was, amounted to Microsoft not publishing the site's address and saying 'get your Redmond customer data here.' Oops.

Lamo, who has developed something of a track record in this area, was able to find it by simply trying variations on known Microsoft IP addresses. It's not clear how many records were available, or how long they were exposed for, but Lamo says searches for common names timed out, indicating that the database was pretty large (and maybe indicating some other things about the system as well, but we won't get into that).

Sample entries going back to last year seen by The Register include an order for Win2k SP1 from a well-known figure to whom we propose to deny further oxygen of publicity. They also include records of MSDN subscriptions and product key-like "Membership IDs." It's not clear which products or services these are for, but there are also other membership IDs listed which are entirely numerical, and which look similar to partial MSDN membership IDs. On its own one of these, even the full one, wouldn't be very much use to you, of course.

A record for a customer in Germany is included, and in some cases the order data includes an entry for "Tax/VAT/GST" so the database appears to have included financial data for both US and non-US customers. There's also one which notes credit card authorisation has been declined, which is surely something the Microsoft customer in question wouldn't have wanted other people to know.

A database which covered all product ordered from Microsoft and fulfilled by mail, and contained records for both US and non-US customers would be vast, and frankly of doubtful utility. Aside from service packs and MSDN subs, Microsoft sends out preview CDs, trial packs and the like; it might have been the case that this database included records of all of the XP corporate preview program subscribers, for example, and may even have held the record of The Register's very own William H Spam III, who ordered the Win2k preview pack last year.

Obviously we can't say how much was exposed without knowing more about the system itself, and how it interfaced with Microsoft's databases. But it does seem to have been a big and embarrassing goof, and Microsoft is fortunate that it was discovered by Lamo, rather than someone with more nefarious intent. ®

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