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A Chink in Convio’s Armor?

BY Kate Kaye | Sunday, March 27 2005

An Information security firm, M2000/IS, investigated four Web-hosting providers serving nonprofits, and found that Convio’s systems allowed for potential personal data security breaches. A report by the company’s chief scientist, David Tubbs is featured in PoliticsOnline’s NetPulse newsletter published March 16.

In an effort to suss out sites that “may have a large potential for use by malicious predators” M2000/IS (all I can think of is Mystery Science Theater 3000) decided sites that attract children and handle financial transactions online would be the most appropriate to analyze, so their first target was nonprofit sites, which are typically hosted by an outside firm. Of hosting providers specifically serving nonprofits, M2 chose Convio, eTapestry, GetActive, and Kintera as “the most interesting…based on size, web prevalence, and the profile of the client base.” Some of these firms also service political campaigns and politically-relevant issue advocacy groups.

In its investigation, the firm asked, "Are there inherent, obvious risks in how these web sites are designed and/or used?" All were deemed non-threatening except for Convio-hosted sites, which apparently “used previously placed cookies to automatically fill in the users' information in forms of all types. This information was often even shared with related sites and their forms.” The thing is, the forms were pre-filled without requiring user authentication, such as a pre-determined login and password.

M2 considers this a security risk because “if access is obtained from a publicly available Internet location (in say, a school, a library, an Internet Café, an airport, or a kiosk), and the cookie is instantiated, the next visitor to that web site, using that computer, will see all of the previous user's information.”

The report also goes on to state, “it is only reasonable to infer that if operational vulnerabilities such as these exist at the first phase investigation level, then a deeper investigation might well uncover vulnerabilities that are more significant.”

Yikes. Look out Convio.

This report was published over a week ago, and I haven’t heard any rumblings about it. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that the other companies mentioned in the report haven’t used it to their advantage by tooting their own privacy protecting horns. None seem to have done so, though. My guess is they’re either taking the report with a grain of salt, conducting their own internal assessments, or most likely, running around like chickens with their heads cut off in preparation for the big Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in Baltimore next week.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Net Effects

Ballooning digital campaign teams; early registration deadlines kept millions of people from voting in 2012; love letters to Obamacare; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Data-Driven

Get to know Clinton's digital team even better; Ted Cruz election announcement-related fundraising offers peak into the coming data-driven campaign arms race; New York City launches online community engagement pilot program called IdeaScale; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Too Much Information

Will Facebook become the Walmart of News?; Hillary Clinton's digital team; how easy it is to get your hands on 4.6 million license plate scans; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Firsts

Political reporters use Yik Yak to pep up stories about Ted Cruz's campaign announcement; The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic may agree to let Facebook host their news on its servers; Google fiber users to soon get targeted television ads; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Cowed

TedCruz.com for president; Meerkat fever; who does Facebook work for (probably not you); Medium, "the billionaire's typewriter"; and much, much more. GO

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