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Travel website Hotel Hippo yanked offline after data leaks spotted

Whose credit card details and address d'ya fancy reading?

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Travel website Hotel Hippo is closed for business after an infosec bod spotted gaping security flaws which could allow hackers to snoop through customers' booking details.

Information security consultant Scott Helme contacted The Register to discuss the security lapse, which could come in very handy for burglars who want to see if marks are on holiday before breaking in and nicking all their stuff.

The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) opened an investigation into the alleged breach yesterday, according to the BBC.

Helme wrote: "These are basic security failings that are exposing huge amounts of data. There seems to be a few sibling companies that use a very similar back end and the story, whilst not quite as bad, is pretty similar there too."

After the security consultant published his full findings on his blog, Hotel Hippo brought down its site and replaced its homepage with a warning which said: "We are currently undergoing urgent site maintenance."

Helme's allegations are long and detailed, starting with the claim that their HTTPS security certificate is actually for a website called Afternoon Tea For Two.

He then found he could input booking reference numbers other than his own and view other customers' personal details, simply by making a small change to the URL.

"It turns out you can start walking backwards through the booking reference numbers, which are sequential, and pull out the data associated with each one," he said.

Helme also suggested that Hotel Hippo's website doesn't support the most up-to-date security standards such as TLS 1.1, TLS 1.2 and Perfect Forward Secrecy, potentially putting it in conflict with the security requirements (PDF) of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) guidelines.

Moreover, Helme also claimed that Hotel Hippo had failed to noindex the secure areas of its site from Google, meaning the search engine's bots had actually appeared to index at least one customer's personal details from a supposedly secure booking page. El Reg tested this ourselves and discovered the cached version on Google includes a full address, booking reference number, amount paid and partial credit card details – enough for a scammer to launch a convincing phishing attack, as Helme points out.

We tried to contact Hotel Hippo but have had no response. We'll update this story if we do hear back from the firm. ®

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