Feeds

TheTrainline.com fixes web security derailment

Points failure

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Updated This story was updated on February 11 to add that Trainline fixed this insecure credit card submission flaw a day after our initial report. The firm has been in touch to say that it has revamped its handling of security reports from customers, following a review of the incident, as reported here.

TheTrainline.com, a UK website for buying train tickets, has a security bug, which means customers could be invited to submit credit card details over an insecure link. The bug kicks in only when users make an error with their credit card details, so it won't affect the majority of customers.

The bug remains unresolved more than three weeks after the issue was first flagged up to the firm.

Customers will see a confirmation that they are submitting information to a secure page as soon as they start the payments process. The site uses an Extended Validation SSL certificate, giving extra confidence that all is (seemingly) well.

However users who make an error at the final payment page when their payment card details are verified are bounced over to an insecure page, inviting them to submit corrected details over an unencrypted HTTP link. Inattentive users could be forgiving for missing the change. Although the https signifier in the URL is absent, a falsely reassuring padlock graphic remains in place, along with logos for Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode.

The issue was first noted by Tim Anderson, a Reg Developer contributor, on 8 October.

Reg reader Dave experienced the same problems. "I recently attempted to purchase tickets on their secure, verified by visa, shop. To my horror, on the final page I was redirected to an insecure page with a form on containing the number of the credit card I had just typed in - passed in the source, not encrypted in any way," he told us.

Anderson and Dave both raised the issue with TheTrainline, but neither got a response. Our attempts to speak to someone on the phone about the problem proved similarly frustrating. Phoning up the 0870 number on the site and attempting to report a problem led to the suggestion that we ought to post a letter to its headquarters. The number of Trainline.com, the firm that runs the service, isn't published on the website and call centre staff we spoke to didn't have it.

When we tracked down the phone number of its Edinburgh HQ, staff invited us to ... ring in on the 0870 number on the site. Attempts to contact the firm via its website were more successful, alhough its webmaster is yet to reply to a direct email.

TheTrainline.com acknowledged there was a problem with the site but downplayed its significance.

"I can confirm that there is a temporary fault on our website and our technical team is working on resolving it as soon as possible," a representative of the firm wrote in response to our web query.

"However, our website is still secure to allow transactions to go through. When paying by credit/debit card on our Internet site you can be sure that any information you send us remains secure and protected."

The site is secure, up to a point, but only if you don't make any mistakes. As Anderson notes the chances of cybercrooks intercepting insecure internet traffic sent to and between the site at times when the glitch kicks in are low. That said, the risk on the coding error is real, if small and hard to quantify. So the failure of the high-profile merchant to deal with it in a more timely fashion is disappointing.

Back on track

A day after filling this story was published TheTrainline.com implemented a fix.

The passenger transport etailer said on that it has now updated it procedures for handling reports of security bugs, following a review after our report in November.

"I cannot express firmly enough that security is an issue that this company takes very seriously," said Ben Pearson, commercial director of TheTrainline.com, told El Reg. "It was with considerable dismay that I learned of this fault and the problem was resolved within a day of it being brought to my attention. Subsequent to your article we have also introduced new procedures such that customer reported faults of this nature get escalated immediately for diagnosis and remedy." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.