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Flaws on ESPN Fantasy Football site make cheating a snap

Game fixing trivial

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

ESPN's Fantasy Football site is riddled with flaws that allow players to rig games, a security researcher says.

The online contest allows players to pretend they are owners of American football teams as they compete against other imaginary owners to pick a winning lineup from real-life members of the National Football League. As the season progresses, the fantasy teams rise or fall based on the performance of the real-life football stars. Many participants play for fun in leagues made up of friends or colleagues, but it's not uncommon for players to compete for money, too.

Playing for cash on ESPN's site might not be such a good idea, according to security researcher Billy Rios. He says it's trivial for anyone with an account to make changes to other players' teams simply by manipulating the text strings in their browser's address bar.

“Anyone can add, drop, or trade players for any other team (not just in your league) by making some changes to the URL,” he tells The Reg. “You just have to get the correct playerID and change one value in the query string. I didn't use any special tools and anyone can do these changes straight from the browser.”

Rios explains here how he used the technique to force a rival player's team to accept Rex Grossman, a Chicago Bears quarterback whose on-field performance has won him the title of kid suckiness from one sports pundit. (Out of fairness, Rios added the player to the rival's bench, not the starting lineup, and then sent an email purporting to come from Grossman saying “put me in coach!”)

Rios, whose online moniker is XSSniper, says he's notified ESPN of the glitch. ®

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