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Transit site coughs up private info for 168,000 passengers

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Dutch authorities have shuttered a transit website after a hacker demonstrated it gave him access to addresses, birthdates, and other sensitive information belonging to some 168,000 passengers.

Ironically, Ervaar het OV, which translates to "Experience the OV," was intended to promote the use of smartcards on the OV system by offering coupons and other promotions. According to an article in Webwereld magazine, the site is wide open to simple attacks that allow hackers to read, change, or delete passengers' personal information.

The glitch that exposed the database to world+dog is a SQL injection, the same garden-variety vulnerability criminal hackers used to pierce the defenses of Heartland Payment Systems and other well-fortified companies and make off with data for millions of credit cards. SQL injection flaws are the result of poorly written web applications that fail to vet user-supplied input before passing it to back-end systems.

A hacker identified only as "ins3ct3d" demonstrated the hole in the Dutch transit site by successfully retrieving personal information belonging to a Webwereld reporter, who had electronically purchased a smartcard last year.

The hacker said his motivation in exposing the hole was to prod government officials to better safeguard the information they store.

"As long as the government continues to impose unsafe public systems, I feel compelled to protect and warn my fellow citizens," he was quoted as saying. ®

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