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RBS WorldPay downplays database hack reports

'No access to either merchant or cardholder accounts'

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Updated RBS WorldPay and a hacker are at loggerheads over the seriousness of a supposed breach on websites run by the payment processing firm.

Security shortcomings - since blocked - on RBS WorldPay website exposed confidential information, including admin passwords and the contact details of partners, according to blog posts by Romanian hacker Unu.

The grey-hat hacker previously exposed similar problems on the websites of the UK parliament and HSBC France, among many others. As before he published screenshots to back up his latest claims.

RBS WorldPay initially responded to our inquiries by saying that the reported SQL injection attacks mounted by Unu were thrown against test websites. All the dummy data involved was fictitious and in no way confidential, so there was no breach.

Unu disputes this and has posted further screenshots that appear to show SQL injection problems with the German version of RBS WorldPay's website. The hacker claims that RBS WorldPay has blocked public access to the website locations covered by his first set of screenshots, blocking possible exploitation, but that other SQL injection problems on its sites remain unaddressed.

In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, RBS WorldPay said that a security audit has established that access to either merchants or cardholder accounts was not possible via any of the reported vulnerabilities.

RBS WorldPay have thoroughly investigated reports of a technical vulnerability on our website. We have taken the report very seriously, and enforced immediate security measures.

Any information the unauthorised third party found would not provide access to either merchants or cardholder accounts.

We take data security very seriously, and regularly review the way in which we protect customer and consumer data.

As part of our ongoing commitment to protecting customer data, we will be conducting an additional assessment of the circumstances, and continue to make further security re-enforcements where appropriate.

SQL injection flaws, a class of vulnerability we've previously compared to running Jedi mind tricks on weak-willed drones, lie at the bottom of all the problems reported by Unu.

The flaws make it possible to trick back-end databases into coughing up sensitive data in response to commands tacked onto the end of URLs entered into a browser. This is a common class of vulnerability, as illustrated by a recent survey of website security by UK-based penetration testing firm NTA Monitor, but all the more serious when it crops up on the website of a large financial services operation, such as RBS WorldPay.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group business processes millions of payments every day. An RBS WorldPay spokeswoman said took site security issues seriously, a point supported by its prompt responses to our inquiries on Thursday. ®

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