Feeds

Ryanair disses booking system security fears

Secure this

Website security in corporate America

Updated Budget airline Ryanair has reacted with indignation to suggestions that its booking system ought to be more secure.

While most airlines only allow modifications to bookings once a passenger has verified themselves using a password and booking reference, Ryanair adopts a lower standard. German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel found that Ryanair’s booking system gives a user three ways to log in before modifying their booking.

One of the mechanisms involves entering three pieces of information - date of flight, email address and origin and destination of flight - that might easily be guessed, providing a miscreant knew a prospective mark was about to go off on a trip. Such information might easily be gleaned from Facebook, Twitter or FourSquare, of course.

Daniel de Carvalho, a spokesman for Ryanair, dismissed concerns that extra (or as he put it "superfluous"1) security to its booking system might be needed in defence against possible attacks. He told Der Tagesspiegel that it's up to passengers to keep their information secure, implying it's a passenger's hard luck if something goes awry.

But as web developer Thomas Cannon points out, email addresses are freely handed out on business cards and seldom kept secret. Once an email address is known then it becomes a simple exercise in scripting to try every possible combination of flight for a particular day.

"If we knew someone’s email address and were to write a script that programatically submitted requests to the Ryanair website at a relatively slow rate of four per second, it would take just over 10 minutes to check every flight permutation for a flight on a single date," Cannon argues. "To brute force every permutation against an email address for the whole of next month it would take just over five hours."

Once logged into a booking system a criminal would be able to modify bookings or add services. However Ryanair said valid credit card details would still have to be entered at this point. Previously used payment details would not be used.

"Payment would have to be paid by the 'hacker' - which has never happened," a Ryanair spokesman told El Reg.

"To access a booking you have to enter personal information that only you should know, there is nothing to gain by accessing another persons booking and there has never been a case of someone fraudulently doing so," he said. "Talk of 'brute force' attacks are pointless and overly dramatic."

Bootnote

1 The Ryanair spokesman who spoke to us said that nobody at Ryanair would use the word "superfluous".

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.