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Fund manager withdraws legal threat over security vuln

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First State Super, the company that called the police and fired off legal threats when a security researcher notified it of vulnerabilities in its online funds management application, is reportedly softening its stance.

According to Australia’s Financial Standard, the company has decided against further legal action, and instead is setting up a meeting with Patrick Webster, who notified the company that its use of direct object references in the URL bar meant any logged-in user could view other users’ information merely by changing the ID number.

After originally welcoming the notification, the company then called police and sent legal letters threatening Webster.

The ensuing media storm, which began when Webster told his story to security podcaster Patrick Gray and was broken on his Risky Business site, has apparently helped bring about the change of heart. While the fund still needs to ensure that Webster has not retained any of the records he downloaded when crafting his proof-of-concept, FSS has now arranged a meeting with him.

However, FSS is still subject to criticism for other aspects of its response to the security breach. Its decision to notify only those users whose data was downloaded by Webster has come under fire from acting NSW Privacy Commissioner John McAteer, who believes that all of its customers should have been notified.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Tim Pilgrim, has also launched an investigation into the matter. ®

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