Story image

Amazon customers irate after 'technical error'

22 Nov 2018

A ‘technical error’ was responsible for revealing some Amazon  customers’ names and email addresses – although many people worldwide are speculating that it could have been a data breach.

While Amazon isn’t giving too much away about what happened, reports suggest that the error exposed customer names and email addresses. It quickly informed the customers affected by the error and remedied the situation.

However, customers have been quick to point out that Amazon’s handling of the situation has been less than perfect. 

According to user posts on Amazon’s Seller Central forums, the content of the initial notification didn’t explain enough. The email says:

“Hello,

We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your email address due to a technical error. The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.

Sincerely, Customer Service”

As Amazon user ko_marketing puts it, “It’s as if a 10 year old composed the message.”

While it’s possible that Amazon doesn’t have information at hand about how many people were affected by the error or who could have seen the publicly available information, Amazon did not admit that lack of knowledge in its email.

Many have called out Amazon’s request for users not to change their passwords as a poor suggestion, particularly because it does nothing but raise further suspicion. Many users wondered whether the email was genuine or a phishing email.

Amazon also failed to disclose whether it has notified any regulatory bodies or national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) about the issue. This has also aggravated unhappy customers – and security experts.

We got the word from Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of web security company High-Tech Bridge about what it could mean:

“I wouldn’t hurry with premature conclusions until all technical details of the incident become clear. Based on the information currently available, it is technically incorrect to call this incident a “data breach”. This rather looks like an inadvertent programming error that made some details of Amazon’s profiles publicly available to random people,” says Kolochenko.   “Unfortunately, even such companies as Amazon are not immune from such omissions. Our IT systems become more convoluted and intricate every day, inevitably causing more human errors. Amazon’s reaction seems to be quite prompt, however an official statement would certainly be helpful to prevent any speculation and unnecessary exaggeration of the incident and its scope.”

It’s now up to Amazon to put users’ suspicions to rest and undertake some serious damage control.

Veeam releases v3 of its MS Office backup solution
One of Veeam’s most popular solutions, Backup for Office 365, has been upgraded again with greater speed, security and analytics.
Too many 'critical' vulnerabilities to patch? Tenable opts for a different approach
Tenable is hedging all of its security bets on the power of predictive, as the company announced general available of its Predictive Prioritisation solution within Tenable.io.
Industrial control component vulnerabilities up 30%
Positive Technologies says exploitation of these vulnerabilities could disturb operations by disrupting command transfer between components.
McAfee announces Google Cloud Platform support
McAfee MVISION Cloud now integrates with GCP Cloud SCC to help security professionals gain visibility and control over their cloud resources.
Scammers targeting more countries in sextortion scam - ESET
The attacker in the email claims they have hacked the intended victim's device, and have recorded the person while watching pornographic content.
Cryptojacking and failure to patch still major threats - Ixia
Compromised enterprise networks from unpatched vulnerabilities and bad security hygiene continued to be fertile ground for hackers in 2018.
Princeton study wants to know if you have a smart home - or a spy home
The IoT research team at Princeton University wants to know how your IoT devices send and receive data not only to each other, but also to any other third parties that may be involved.
Organisations not testing incident response plans – IBM Security
Failure to test can leave organisations less prepared to effectively manage the complex processes and coordination that must take place in the wake of an attack.