Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Crash Handling

I wrote a thing for the company blog:

Crash Handling

Seriously, though, displaying a stack trace to your users is poor form. It's the web site equivalent of the Windows "Blue Screen of Death".  However stack traces are useful diagnostics tools for the developer or DevOps team.

Frequently they occur in unexpected circumstances -- database down, disk full, disk not writeable, disk error, network failure, etc. Even in the most trying of circumstances try to log something useful somewhere (be aware that your normal logging procedure may not work, so have a fallback), and try to display something less unfriendly to the user, such as redirecting them to a "maintenance" page or server status blog.  Try to keep your customers informed -- don't just leave them hanging. Status blogs are good practice because it may be some time before your networks, systems or DevOps teams have the problem diagnosed and resolved.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

This is what happens when you don't keep your software updated

The problem that happens when you don't keep your website updated is this:
Hackers pop 6000 sites on active 18-month carding bonanza

Magento patched this bug 18 months ago and so it should be simple for web site owners to organise this to be fixed but Willem de Groot is still producing lists of online stores that are vulnerable and getting hacked on a daily basis.

It seems that a lot of store owners either don't care, or are completely oblivious to the issue, with responses like 'we are safe because we use https' or 'we are safe because we have the Symantec security seal'.  Neither of which are protection against software bugs.

Hacked sites may have all sorts of card skimmers installed, of the type that send customers' credit card data to online hackers.  A few months ago I personally noted that a few of the websites that I was managing had a big increase in credit card fraud -- this is one of the likely vectors of all of those stolen card numbers.

Here is what happens when your credit card gets stolen

Contrary to what you might think, stolen cards don't automatically get detected by the bank at the time the card is stolen. The bank has to wait for a transaction to appear on the card that you don't recognise.

Also, contrary to what you might think, the big money in stolen credit cards is not where thieves take the card number and use it to buy a Porsche or a Rolex. Those transactions are easy to spot because people don't usually buy Porsches or Rolexes with their credit cards.  The big money is in $5 or $10 monthly "service fees".  It works like this:  The thief puts a $10 charge on your card with the description "service fee" or similar.  You, the customer, looks at this charge and thinks "damn bank, slugging me for more fees again" and gets on with your life, ignoring the fee.  Meanwhile the thief has thousands or tens of thousands of stolen cards, each earning them a $10 monthly fee.  That's big money.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Westpac Are A Bunch Of Useless Morons

Sometimes I get a bit steamed up when it comes to computer security.  Usually it's over someone doing stupid things, such as writing their password on a yellow sticky note and putting it under their keyboard, or attaching it to their screens. Sometimes it's about lack of forethought put into product design such as the BlueCoat proxy SSL interception (more about that later).

However occasionally there is a incidence of organisational stupidity that goes beyond the pale.  Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC or Westpac as it's know to us Australians) is one of the "big 4" banks of the Australian banking scene.  So you would think that at some point they would have the funds to hire a security expert to tell them that their recent online banking redesign was a really dumb idea.  Or perhaps they could have hired a 5 year old, because any 5 year old could have spotted this.

Here's a screen shot of the Westpac Online Banking sign-in, or "Westpac Live" as they prefer to call it:

I have "redacted out" (scrubbed over with red paint) a few pertinent details such as my customer ID (account number) and password.  Of course I didn't enter my real password I just clicked on the number "5" a few times.

The customer ID is normally shown in clear text on the screen.  That's no big deal because nobody can access my Westpac accounts without both the customer ID and password.  Nothing beats single factor security, eh?

However the password can also be clearly read by anyone standing behind me.  In fact in the latest redesign the buttons that you click to enter your password have been enlarged, and now the button that you click is highlighted as you click it. That means that anyone in the same room can probably read the password as it's entered.  You can't type it in, you have to click the buttons, for "security reasons" as I've been told by Westpac staff in the past.

I guess "security reasons" are also why the password has to be only 6 characters, letters and numbers, and is all upper case.  I guess "security reasons" is also why they haven't switched to 2 factor authentication yet.

Anyone who still banks at Westpac should probably look to close their accounts and take them elsewhere.  For "security reasons".