Feeds

KC engineer 'exposed unencrypted spreadsheet with phone numbers, user IDs, PASSWORDS'

Hull-based ISP investigates possible data gaffe spotted by customer

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Exclusive Hull's dominant telco, KC, is investigating revelations of what appears to be poor handling of the company's customer data. This comes after a recent sign-up claimed one of its engineers had unwittingly exposed a customer spreadsheet containing the telephone numbers, user IDs and unencrypted passwords of all its subscribers.

The Register was alerted to the alleged gaffe by a KC customer who recently signed up to the ISP.

Chris Hill told us that a KC engineer plugged him into the company's fibre network earlier this week.

But while setting up a Netgear router, the engineer carelessly exposed sensitive data, claimed Hill - who was alarmed by what he had witnessed:

He used a laptop to connect to the router and as he came to the user ID and password for my connection he opened a spreadsheet and looked my phone number up in it. There was my user ID and password, in plain text, along with everyone else's. He tried to shield it from me when he realised I was looking at the list.

I asked him if he had my password with him, he said 'yes - it makes our job much easier', then changed the subject. I said that I wasn't happy that our passwords are not encrypted and that I realised it wasn't his fault.

He didn't reply.

Hill noted to El Reg that the same unencrypted IDs and passwords were used to hook up to KC's parent company KCOM Group's Karoo email service, including webmail and POP3. He commented that such action put the data at risk.

"This cannot be a single engineer acting badly as if the passwords were stored encrypted he wouldn't be able to get plain-text copies. I believe they are breaking the Data Protection Act", he added.

We asked Hill if the engineer in question had advised him to immediately change his password manually, or if the system would prompt him to input a new one within a short time of the account going live.

"He handed me a card with my user ID and password on it that I watched him complete. Underneath that box it says: 'You will need this for logging in to KCOnline'. No mention of changing the password there either," the Reg was told.

Hill has written a formal complaint about his concerns to KC.

We asked the telco about its data policy, and also quizzed the company on why it apparently allowed engineers to wander around with laptops allegedly containing unencrypted sensitive details about its customers.

A KC spokeswoman told us:

The security of our customers’ information is of primary importance to us and we are aware of and take very seriously our obligations under the Data Protection Act. We investigate any alleged data security incidents promptly and thoroughly, and we act quickly to make any improvements such investigations identify.

She added: "I can assure you that all of our laptops are encrypted, password-protected and fitted with tracking technology and the facility to remotely wipe data."

When pressed by El Reg on whether the ISP had contacted the Information Commissioner's Office about the alleged data blunder, the spokeswoman said:

We don’t believe it’s appropriate to comment on the specific details of the alleged incident.

But if and where we identify that a personal data breach has occurred, we’re required to notify the ICO and of course we would comply with any notification obligations.

Do you have a similar horror story to share?

If so, contact the author and tell us more..

®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.