Feeds

MI5 security alert finally runs on secure server

Rush job patched up

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

MI5's terror status mailing list has been made a little more secure even though the service has still not been moved onto a fully secure UK government-run infrastructure.

The service, launched by MI5 last Tuesday, is designed to allow subscribers to receive email notification of changing national security threat levels by email.

But an investigation by privacy website Spyblog showed it was sending web subscription forms to the US without encryption. Initially, data submitted to the list was wide open to snoopers.

The subscription system has been changed so it no longer uses the WhatCounts.com services in the USA and so it uses SSL links to submit data to web servers based in the UK. These servers are being run by a private firm called MailTrack and not the UK government. The mailing list was modified late on Friday from its "shambolic" early version, SpyBlog reports.

"The email list subscription service no longer seems to send your personal data to the USA in an unencrypted format, but it is still not being hosted entirely on secure UK Government IT infrastructure. However, signing up this way no longer gets you an email confirmation immediately, you will now have to wait 'a few days'," SpyBlog told El Reg.

The set-up of the system, even ignoring the delay in processing data, is far from ideal, however. Submitted web forms are processed at a site called https://mi5.h0st.biz/xdata.html, which looks suspiciously like a phishing site, but was legitimately registered by MailTrack.

SpyBlog's assessment that the service was established as a "rush job" is supported by emails received by El Reg suggesting that British defence technology company QinetiQ was only informed about plans to launch the service on Monday, 8 January - only a day before the email alert service went live in an insecure format.

Even though changes have been made to improve this somewhat, the affair leaves a number of questions unanswered, as SpyBlog notes, not least who authorised the list to go live without rudimentary security precautions.

More on the aftermath of this web security shambles can be found here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.