Feeds

Labour forum leaks email addresses

'Unbelievably poor and sloppy coding'

Security for virtualized datacentres

Basic design flaws on a Labour party members forum exposed the email addresses of users to harvesting.

Surfers who register through the site http://members.labour.org.uk were invited to confirm their membership, and activate their account, by clicking on the link in an email sent to a specified account.

The email follows the form http://members.labour.org.uk/man-auth/ActivationSent/10000XXXXX

A Reg reader who registered through the site realised that the number at the end of this URL is probably sequential, a unique id which refers to the account just registered. Sure enough, just changing the ID in the URL to a lower number led to the presentation of an email address of another registrant ...

"This is unbelievably poor and sloppy coding," our anonymous informant told El Reg  "Obviously you could use this flaw to extract a whole pile of email addresses. Spammers would love it. Guess there are also data protection issues because this breaks their own privacy policy."

Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, helped El Reg confirm the flaw, which he explained had resulted from a failure to follow established best practice in website design.

"By simply stepping backwards through the number sequence it is possible to harvest the email addresses of all the people who have registered before you," Ferguson explained. "Of course this could easily be automated and the full list could be harvested in a few seconds."

"The problem is that whoever is responsible for the website design uses a direct object reference in the URL (ie: the sequential number). Not only is the reference direct, it is also sequential, making it simple to guess. Best practice is to avoid any kind of direct object reference, instead using the URL to point to an internal index or other indirect reference map. If the URL must contain a direct reference then access to it should be secured by authentication," he added.

We notified Labour's website of the flaw late last week. By Tuesday evening Labour digital staffers were well on top of the problem.

"The Labour Party is always looking for ways to improve our digital presence," a New Labour spokesman told El Reg. "We were already in the process of updating our website's sign-in security and as part of this, the issue in question has been resolved."

It's worth emphasising that the breach was restricted to email addresses and that no other information, much less payment information, was disclosed. Nonetheless the general public are entitled to hold Labour to a higher standard than a Mom and Pop shop, especially given the party's advocacy of putting such a large amount of citizens' personal information on databases while it was in power. Against this the potential rewards from a targeted phishing attack based on the easily obtained email list would have been considerable. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.