Feeds

UK childcare voucher site offline after security snafu

Busy Bees stung by breach

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A UK childcare voucher scheme has admitted that confidential customer data was briefly left exposed to other users during an upgrade last week, but denied suggestions that any sensitive information leaked as a result.

Busy Bees' childcare voucher site has been taken offline following an upgrade that went awry, according to a company spokeswoman, who said that confidential information might have been accessible on the members-only site for around 12 hours last Wednesday night and Thursday morning. She said data on the members-only site was not viewable on the internet at large, and maintained that security problems with the site arose solely as a result of last week's update.

Nick Gibbins, a Busy Bees user who discovered the breach and notified the firm, states he found email addresses of Busy Bees customers, National Insurance numbers, bank account details, payment logs and service logs on the site. In a blog posting, now restricted but still available through Google cache, Gibbins claimed that personal data for over one hundred thousand users was exposed by lax web security at Busy Bees.

He reports that the Busy Bees' childcare voucher system was run using Citrix Metaframe. A Java plug-in on the site was used to export the user interface of a Windows 2000 application. He reckons the security hole he discovered is the result of this fundamentally wobbly application architecture and had therefore probably existed for months.

"This is such a monumentally bad idea that I don't really have the words to explain it," he writes. "It fails on all counts: accessibility, availability, scalability and security. To make matters worse, the Windows application is exceptionally shoddy; the UI behaves inconsistently, there are issues with data integrity."

Busy Bees denies the admitted security problem is anything more than a temporary snafu. "The security bug was introduced as a result of an update," a spokeswoman for Busy Bees explained. "We've never had problems before," she added.

The firm plans to move the voucher scheme on a new secure site based on different technology, which it hopes will be ready later this week.

The UK's childcare voucher scheme provides a way for parents to get tax benefits for money spent on childcare. Funds are deducted from the salary of parents, who received credits in the form of childcare vouchers that can be used as payment at nurseries in return.

The scheme is managed by firms such as Busy Bees, which runs the scheme for organisations including Halfords, South Yorkshire Police, the University of Southampton and Thames Valley Police, according to email addresses seen by Griffin. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.