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Microsoft NZ exposes TechEd delegates' passwords

Registration emails included passwords as plaintext

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Software used by Microsoft's New Zealand outpost to register attendees for next week's TechEd conference has exposed delegates' passwords to unwelcome scrutiny.

Cross Kiwis have contacted The Reg to point out that emails from a third-party events management company offered a URL which they can click to print a barcode that will offer swift entry to the event.

But the URLs being distributed include passwords that delegates used to create accounts to register for the event. The emails also include a value called "ID" that a sharp-eyed Reg reader messed with and discovered, as said reader told us, "The id=673 appears to be the event (TechED NZ) a quick change of the &key= part of the URL to 'password', 'passw0rd', etc gave access to other people's registration details!"

That meant the passwords were almost certainly not encrypted in the database and, as our reader pointed out, also logged in browser history.

To make matters worse, delegates' passwords were also printed as part of the barcodes on their tickets.

Microsoft acknowledged the problem on Thursday, New Zealand time, tweeting from the @techedlive account that speaks for the New Zealand event, that it is "aware of a security issue with our #tenz delegate barcode email" and is "... working towards resolving it."

Microsoft New Zealand has since confirmed the issue and emitted a canned statement:

Unfortunately, the system used an incorrect field to populate the link URL. The system should have used a globally unique identifier (GUID) to authenticate a user, as opposed to their password. The site was quickly updated to prevent people from guessing userID-password combinations, but delegates with common passwords (such as "password") could have had their barcodes discovered.

The statement went on to say that "All delegates were emailed a new link to their barcodes, which authenticates a user using a GUID. Microsoft New Zealand apologises for the inconvenience, but assures that this will not cause any issues at check-in, as all delegates are authenticated with photo ID." ®

The next step in data security

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