On July 25, on his blog Krebs on Security, Brian Krebs covered a flaw in how LifeLock processed “unsubscribe” information related to its marketing activities. For those unfamiliar with LifeLock, it is a subsidiary of Symantec offering identity monitoring and protection services in the U.S. market. Brian outlined an issue impacting recipients of LifeLock marketing material who wished to opt out of further email communications by clicking on a “please remove me from this list” style link within the marketing material. Unfortunately, there was a flaw in that process that allowed anyone to discover email addresses associated with other users. In Symantec’s response, they indicate the issue was limited to the use of a third-party marketing platform used to process marketing communications, not the core LifeLock service, and that with the exception of the security researchers’ efforts, there was no indication of other access attempts.
With this as background, we can see several activities occurring here:
With these observations, made in conjunction with conventional security training intending to identify suspect websites, it’s worth questioning why LifeLock and Symantec didn’t review their opt-out process to ensure it met current security best practices and their branding standards. It’s also worth questioning what data was provided to the third party in addition to the email address. While I doubt this incident rises to the level of a disclosure under GDPR, the security of personally identifiable information (PII) passed to the third party for processing should be reviewed given the issues we’ve observed.
Tim Mackey is a principal security strategist within the Synopsys CyRC (Cybersecurity Research Center). He joined Synopsys as part of the Black Duck Software acquisition where he worked to bring integrated security scanning technology to Red Hat OpenShift and the Kubernetes container orchestration platforms. As a security strategist, Tim applies his skills in distributed systems engineering, mission critical engineering, performance monitoring, large-scale data center operations, and global data privacy regulations to customer problems. He takes the lessons learned from those activities and delivers talks globally at well-known events such as RSA, Black Hat, Open Source Summit, KubeCon, OSCON, DevSecCon, DevOpsCon, Red Hat Summit, and Interop. Tim is also an O'Reilly Media published author and has been covered in publications around the globe including USA Today, Fortune, NBC News, CNN, Forbes, Dark Reading, TEISS, InfoSecurity Magazine, and The Straits Times. Follow Tim at @TimInTech on Twitter and at mackeytim on LinkedIn.