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FaceTime exposes prospect contact info

Red faces over coding snafu at IM security firm

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IM security firm FaceTime has explained how programming errors led to the exposure of contact information for potential customers on its website.

A script in the firm's white paper request page submitted the contact information of interested parties to a .csv file on FaceTime's site.

Worse still, comments within the script of the web page gave away the location of at least three of these unencrypted files, revealing the contact information of several hundred people - including company names, contact names, email addresses, phone numbers, state, country, and other basic info (such as number of employees, IM networks).

Credit cards details or security card numbers were not requested on the request page and not involved in the breach.

Acting on an anonymous reader tip about the breach, El Reg contacted FaceTime. The firm acted promptly to close access to the files and reset security settings on the site. The firm is in the process of notifying the people whose names were on the list, via emails sent out on Tuesday.

Inadvertent changes in these security settings due to the application of patches are the likely cause of the breach, FaceTime reckons. In a statement, FaceTime's vice president of product management and marketing Frank Cabri explained: "The contact information for several hundred people who have requested access to our white papers was accessible via our website to those who viewed the source for the web page and inferred specific paths to .csv files in which this contact information was stored.

"We are still researching the cause of this issue. So far, we have found that our standard security settings for blocking the opening of the csv-file using the full path URL had been disabled. We checked the event logs and we don't see anything that shows how this might have been changed. We believe that when applying a security patch, security update or server update, some of the directory-level security settings may have reverted back to the defaults."

Comments in the script of one page on FaceTime's white paper request microsite pointed to the path name to the other .csv files. FaceTime blames this on a "coding oversight".

"However, had the security settings been working properly - which they do now - a user would not have been able to open the .csv file in their browser even after figuring out the path. We removed the commented code so that it cannot be viewed anymore. We searched the complete site for any other occurrences and did not find any," Cabri explained.

FaceTime is taking steps to prevent similar customer contact detail leaks in future. For example, implementing a blocking rule so that any requests to access the directory containing the .csv files involved in the breach will be denied, as well as implementing additional (undisclosed) security measures. ®

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