Identity theft protection firm 'exposes customers to phishing attacks'

LifeLock web authentication blunder leaves subscriber email addresses exposed

Leaky bucket

What happens when a company you trust to safeguard your identity actually ends up being the very organisation that leaves you vulnerable to attack?

That's what customers of identity theft protection company LifeLock appear to be discovering, after researchers learned that a flaw in the company's website could be leaving customers vulnerable to spearphishing attacks.

The flaw was first reported by security expert Brian Krebs, who was alerted to it by US researcher Nathan Reese. Reese discovered the flaw after clicking on an unsubscribe link in one of LifeLock's emails, which took him to a page where he could update his email marketing preferences.

The URL for this preference centre featured a unique subscriber key, a numerical identifier used by LifeLock to internally catalogue customers. By changing this value in the URL, Reese was able to access the preference centre for other LifeLock subscribers - which meant that he could also see their email addresses.

"It would be trivial to write a simple script that pulls down the email address of every LifeLock subscriber," Krebs said. "The design of the company's site suggests that whoever put it together lacked a basic understanding of website authentication and security."

"If I were a bad guy, I would definitely target your customers with a phishing attack because I know two things about them," said Reese. "That they're a LifeLock customer and that I have those customers' email addresses. That's a pretty sharp spear for my spearphishing right there. Plus, I definitely think the target market of LifeLock is someone who is easily spooked by the specter of cybercrime."

Readers may remember LifeLock as the company whose former CEO Todd Davis was so confident in its services that he ran numerous ads featuring his genuine social security number. He had his identity stolen at least 13 times.

LifeLock is now owned by security firm Symantec following a $2.3 billion acquisition in 2016, and as of January 2017, the company had more than 4.5 million subscribers. IT Pro has approached Symantec for comment.

Featured Resources

Digital document processes in 2020: A spotlight on Western Europe

The shift from best practice to business necessity

Download now

Four security considerations for cloud migration

The good, the bad, and the ugly of cloud computing

Download now

VR leads the way in manufacturing

How VR is digitally transforming our world

Download now

Deeper than digital

Top-performing modern enterprises show why more perfect software is fundamental to success

Download now

Recommended

Sopra Steria confirms it was hit by new Ryuk ransomware variant
Security

Sopra Steria confirms it was hit by new Ryuk ransomware variant

26 Oct 2020
Google fixes zero-day flaw in Chrome and Chrome OS
bugs

Google fixes zero-day flaw in Chrome and Chrome OS

23 Oct 2020
Microsoft spearheads industry-wide charter against AI cyber attacks
Security

Microsoft spearheads industry-wide charter against AI cyber attacks

23 Oct 2020
Weekly threat roundup: Chrome, Citrix and WordPress
Security

Weekly threat roundup: Chrome, Citrix and WordPress

23 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Why you should prioritise privileged access management
Sponsored

Why you should prioritise privileged access management

9 Oct 2020
Sopra Steria confirms it was hit by new Ryuk ransomware variant
Security

Sopra Steria confirms it was hit by new Ryuk ransomware variant

26 Oct 2020
The enemy of security is complexity
Sponsored

The enemy of security is complexity

9 Oct 2020