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9/11/2009
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Hacker Hits RBS WorldPay Systems Database

Romanian hacker says he discovered a SQL injection flaw on a WorldPay application, but RBS says no merchant or cardholder data was compromised

A Romanian hacker well-known for discovering SQL injection vulnerabilities in high-profile Websites has struck again -- this time on RBS WorldPay's site, where he says he hit the jackpot, the company's database.

The hacker, who goes by "Unu," says he accessed RBS WorldPay's database via a SQL injection flaw in one of its Web applications. RBS WorldPay maintains Unu accessed a test database that didn't carry any live data, and that no merchant or cardholder data accounts were compromised. The company has since taken down the pages.

Unu says the company's response to his email warning of the vulnerability, as well as other security problems, was "unprofessional" and "confused."

"If the parameter is not well-secured, besides the legitimate request from the database -- which is related to that parameter -- other applications data can insert," he says. "The vulnerable parameter allows full access to databases on [the] server."

Unu posted two additional examples of flaws on another RBS site after the company claimed his first find was merely a test database. The researcher made waves earlier this year with his disclosure of holes in the Websites of security firms Kaspersky Lab and BitDefender.

"Unu's been reliable with regard to SQL injection proof-of-concepts, so I wouldn't doubt his findings [here]. Whether this was a test site or not is a more difficult question to answer. Test system or not, it is never a good idea to have an unprotected system out in the open," says Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat Security.

Aside from the SQL injection bugs, Unu also found weak password usage on the site, including one app that wasn't even password-protected, and another that showed the administrative password in the clear.

"There's still a great number of people who don't have passwords on high-level accounts nor store them encrypted," WhiteHat's Grossman says. "The basic thinking is that no one can access these on systems through the perimeter firewall...and they trust the employees internally."

RBS WorldPay had not responded to a request for an interview or comment as of this posting.

The company reportedly issued a statement today saying it had initiated an investigation of reports of a vulnerability on its Website, had enacted security measures, and was taking the disclosure "seriously." RBS WorldPay, which is the U.S.-based payment processing division of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was hacked last November in a breach that exposed 1.5 million credit card accounts.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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