Feeds

MI5 security alert finally runs on secure server

Rush job patched up

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.