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UK Mobile Operator O2 Leaks MMS Photos

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the like-a-sieve dept.

Security 154

Anonymous Hero writes "UK Mobile Operator O2 allows its customers to send Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) photos to email recipients by way of a web interface. The URLs published by the MMS-to-email application are not authenticated, so a simple Google search reveals hundreds, if not thousands of private photos." Reader ttul points out similar coverage of this issue at InformationWeek.

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Tomorrow's news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251689)

Under pressure from the NY attorney general, major telecoms have agreed to permanently stop offering MMS service.

Re:Tomorrow's news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251707)

Under pressure from the NY attorney general, major telecoms have agreed to permanently stop offering MMS service.

I never realised the NY Attorney General had such power over British phone operators.

Re:Tomorrow's news (3, Informative)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251845)

Probably, O2 have already disabled access to email for non-contract users.

I tried to post this on /. the other day but hasn't been accepted; being as anyone on O2 is probably reading this article, I'll post it here. "It's been reported in a number [xcns.co.uk] of places [hexus.net] that UK Mobile Phone company, O2 are blocking some internet ports for some customers.

It appears that although Contract customers on the mobile network are fully able to access email and SSH via their mobile phone, yet customers subscribed through 'Pay as you Go' (PAYG; a non-subscription service, paid up in front as credit), are only given WAP access, which only provides very basic HTTP access.

Essentially this means that anyone with a pay-in-front service agreement won't be able to access their email or use anything apart from basic HTTP, even though O2 are now selling and advertising the new Apple iPhone on PAYG and stating it will support "all the same features as contract customers".

It's been reported that on contacting O2, they state its a technical problem and one that can't be resolved, yet it's also been mentioned that their own O2 POP3 mail service does work, but access to any other service doesn't.

Are O2 right to restrict access for customers not on a fixed contract? Does your mobile phone company do the same thing? And are O2 advertising unfairly?"


More information here [xcns.co.uk] .

Re:Tomorrow's news (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252455)

'Essentially this means that anyone with a pay-in-front service agreement won't be able to access their email or use anything apart from basic HTTP, even though O2 are now selling and advertising the new Apple iPhone on PAYG and stating it will support "all the same features as contract customers"'

They aren't selling a PAYG iPhone yet, and are now only saying it will be available 'in time for Christmas':

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/07/07/cw_payg_iphone_launch [reghardware.co.uk]

Re:Tomorrow's news (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252685)

You can stick in a PayG SIM in a 2G iphone and it'll work fine.. it's one of the things O2 recommend you do with your old iphone when you upgrade to the 3G.

The story is *total* BS though. Email works just fine on the iphone over PayG, as does everything else. They even allow you to get unlimited internet and wifi as a package for £10/mo if you want.

Re:Tomorrow's news (5, Funny)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251871)

Imagine, Judge being presented his own private MMS as evidence.

Reminds me of a joke:

A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in a trial -- a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a rising big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real disappointment to me. He's lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him."

At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, "If either of you asks her if she knows me, you'll be in jail for contempt of court!"

Re:Tomorrow's news (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252101)

I bet Apple apologisers will party like... "See, how future ready iPhone is?"

Re:Tomorrow's news (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252803)

I'm sorry?

All your creativity are belong to google.com (5, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251715)

I blame web 2.0 and young people.
Back in the good old days you would have used safe ftp.
ftp never hurt anyone.
I do harbour dreams of being a Tor node operator.

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251947)

Since MMS can be sent to email directly from most handsets, does this actually affect anyone?

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (2, Informative)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251967)

MMS can't be sent directly to email on O2, and as far as I know, not at ALL in the UK.

Even so, eMail doesn't work on Pay as you Go on O2. [xcns.co.uk]

So yeah, it does affect customers. Anyone who sends an MMS to a non-MMS capable phone (presumably if the phone can't do MMS, it probably can't do eMail either), the MMS is posted to O2's website, and that's where the problem starts.

Did you bother to read the article? [xcns.co.uk]

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252691)

Even so, eMail doesn't work on Pay as you Go on O2.

Total BS. That site is making shit up to get advertising hits. It's not even believable shit this time around, as anyone with an iphone on PayG will tell you.

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (1)

techtoad (1068024) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252871)

Sorry, sir, you may be right for the iPhone, but have you actually tried this with a supported phone on O2 PAYG? It doesn't work and O2 confirms that it doesn't.

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252895)

The article states that it doesn't work for the *iphone* on PayG. O2 have never sold full internet access over PayG for other phones and have never claimed to - only web access.

This article totally and utterly false, and is *provably* false simply by registering a PayG SIM in an iphone.

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252695)

UK citizen here. My old Virgin Mobile T610 and my current T-Mobile W810 can both send MMS to an email address. O2 however, as you correctly state, disable this feature on at least some of their handsets

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252333)

Aw, you gotta be kidding! You are not a sys admin, I suppose? ftp is a fucked up protocol (passive ftp? active ftp? gimme a break) that was a nightmare to manage, specially if you had firewalls.

Re:All your creativity are belong to google.com (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252657)

Except for the extremely insecure daemon software that has allowed thousands, if not many more, servers to be rooted. And then there are the completely insane default security settings of many FTP servers (IIS anyone?) of yore.

Also, FTP is difficult to firewall properly.

There have even been exploitable bugs in Linux FTP conntrack module.

Please, never ever associate FTP with good security. Use SFTP or HTTPS.

eh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251717)

hundreds or thousands..... or maybe 40? someone can't count very high before jumping to 1000!

Re:eh? (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251749)

i think o2 is now aware of the leakage and are removing the media. i ve searched google 5 minutes ago and got about 40 but now i get only 2 results. also the server seems to be down.

Re:eh? (4, Informative)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251863)

I think you'll find that there's still the same number as yesterday - I'm the DugUK as mentioned in the InformationWeek article.

I posted the comment in the O2 Forums, and they not only deleted my comments, they disabled my account too! I'm glad people are finally beginning to realise this is a problem and can't just be hidden up.

For my next trick, I'd like everyone to also know that EMAIL DOES NOT WORK ON PAY AS YOU GO on O2! They've blocked port access.

Thanks!

Re:eh? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252699)

For my next trick, I'd like everyone to also know that EMAIL DOES NOT WORK ON PAY AS YOU GO on O2! They've blocked port access.

So it's you making this BS up? You've already been called on it on the O2 forums and it's not surprising they deleted your account.

Email works *perfectly* on pay as you go. As you damned well know. Troll.

Re:eh? (1)

Slorv (841945) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251885)

It works fine over here. 47 results. You get images and atleast one wav-file.
I must try sending an image thru my phone service (Telia) to my non-MMS phone and see how those URLs looks like.
Chances are that the MMS downloading service is bought in from some company that has their system setup more or less identical for anyone using it.

Re:eh? (2, Informative)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252167)

I still get 40 results. And google isn't real time, if the pictures were taken down from the servers that wouldn't change the search results right away.

Re:eh? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251751)

I wonder if these are all the pictures that have ever been sent, if more are hiding or if they are deleted after a time limit. It would be highl unlikely that only 40 people have ever sent a picture like this.

Re:eh? (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251759)

they give about a month before the media expires, this is from one of the pictures:

Date: 19/06/2008 18:53
Expires: 19/07/2008 18:53

Re:eh? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252981)

Google can't index them if it can't see links to them. So there are probably just the tiny subset of images that ended up linked from publicly-accessible web pages that Google crawled.

Quite a storm in a teacup.

Re:eh? (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 6 years ago | (#24253101)

Those are only the ones that Google knows of (as in, the ones that are linked to somewhere on the Internet). As the article mentions:

The code that protects them is a 16-digit hexadecimal number and many people are capable of writing a script to try every code combination.

Which could be said of any system that uses hashes in URLs for anything. Of course, I'm not sure how long it would take accessing thousands of sequentially increased URLs in a short period of time before your IP were blocked...

Disappointing (5, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251729)

Arr, not a looker in the bunch!

Re:Disappointing (5, Insightful)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251799)

Funny it includes the sender's phone number... oughta MMS everyone back and tell them to start taking some photos of hot chicks.
Presents an interesting new way for us Slashdotters to meet girls...

Re:Disappointing (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251877)

I think we melted the poor O2 servers. I'm now getting 503 errors.

Re:Disappointing (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252221)

I am guessing you were joking but, if you aren't, that'd be a wee bit creepy.

Re:Disappointing (1)

risinganger (586395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252311)

I think though it'd be a great way to hammer home the point to non-tech O2 customers though. Imagine the outrage of all those customers after they've recieved hundreds of sms or mms messages from people they've never heard of :-p

Re:Disappointing (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252337)

Ah the memories. You reminded me of the days of yore when malware was authored with much that same intent in mind. Touché.

Re:Disappointing (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252565)

Watch out, they are making laws against this "cyber-stalking" stuff. Crazy times we live in!

Re:Disappointing (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251929)

Arr, not a looker in the bunch!

Yeah, mostly pictures of bare-chested blokes. Meh! But OTOH I think there are many geeks out there who might find this strangely alluring.

Re:Disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252207)

Those with iPhones?

no problem (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251739)

Right now the web is being slashdotted, your pictures will be safe

I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (2, Insightful)

tecker (793737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251755)

Cue lawsuit over this in

3.....

2.....

1.....

Ohhhh, settled out of court and everyone gets 1000 free picture and MMS messaging while we fix our system.



(Im calling 3 weeks to the system being fixed)

Re:I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (1)

tecker (793737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251775)

Oh come on. I get that all made then realize that its not 1000s its 42 links. So much for the lawsuit. (Someone might try though)

Re:I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (1)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251815)

settled out of court and everyone gets 1000 free picture and MMS messaging while we fix our system.

And $100 million in attorney's fees for those representing the class action suit.

Re:I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252053)

Except for the clause in the user contract preventing class action lawsuits, and requiring binding arbitration.

Or do they do things differently in the UK than they do in america?

Re:I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252525)

IANAL but, In the UK they cant write you out of something you are legally entitled to....

question is, are we legally entitled to a class action? hmmmm

Re:I hear a thundering herd of feet.... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252707)

The information commissioner has the power to levy punitive fines for something like this. As does ofcom, in fact. No need for a lawsuit.

Of course they'll probably only act if this hits the newspapers.. such is the way politics works, sigh.

Hmmmmm (1)

bherman (531936) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251769)

And here we were all along bashing the iPhone for not including MMS.

I guess maybe they were right :)

Re:Hmmmmm (0, Troll)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251869)

Don't worry - the iPhone won't even support eMail in the UK on O2 PAYG. [xcns.co.uk]

Re:Hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252019)

Don't worry - the iPhone won't even support eMail in the UK on O2 PAYG. [xcns.co.uk]

That's complete crap. He's using the wrong GPRS bundle. o2's £7.50 hasn't worked in years, but using the new iPhone specific bundle works fine!

http://customerforum.o2.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=3527

I can confirm SSL Imap to gmail works, along with HTTPS. Blowing that article to bits.

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252029)

It doesn't work on non-iPhone phones, i can't confirm or deny that it works on iPhones - but isn't it a bit unfair to treat customers differently based on their handset?

Also, have you tried this with non-O2 mail servers? With IMAP? I'd love to know how you can get this to work on 'normal' handsets, because O2 say its a 'technical limitation'.

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252733)

When you register as an iphone user on your payg sim they unblock everything, as well as activating edge. It's also a good idea to get the £10/mo unlimited data/wifi package. This puts you on the same level as a contract iphone customer.

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252033)

Wait? Did you say GMAIL? Yeah, O2 confirms that works, but OTHER MAIL SERVERS ARE BLOCKED!

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252717)

Shut up with the BS.

Even my own home email server works.

Re:Hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24253031)

Is this on PAYG on a non-iPhone?

O2 says it doesn't work so if you've got it to work, me and a LOT of other people would love to know how!

Re:Hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252203)

iPhone doesn't do MMS either, amazingly.

Well that's just great (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251831)

Yesterday I changed to O2. I could have just as easily changed to a different network.

Oh well, it could be worse - I could have stayed with Virgin.

Of course that is not all. (5, Informative)

lantastik (877247) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251843)

Google can dig up all kinds of wonderful information [ihackstuff.com] .

What if I take a picture of copyrighted material.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251857)

And mail it to my other phone?

Will O2 'make it available' ?

Re:What if I take a picture of copyrighted materia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24251913)

Yes, but only if you message it to a non-mms enabled phone. rtfa you twonk! [xcns.co.uk]

Problem solved! (5, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251907)

Heartfelt thanks to all the people of slashdot for mounting a DDOS attack on our servers.

The O2 team.

Re:Problem solved! (3, Insightful)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251915)

At least it might get O2's attention! All the action they've taken so far is deleting forum posts from their own forums and ignoring any email or telephone complaints.

Are you really from the O2 Team? If so, I've got a few words for you...

Not as bad as it sounds (5, Insightful)

srjh (1316705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251943)

Try searching for each of those 16-character IDs, and you'll see that each has already been posted publically, and most seem to be from just the one user. Which makes sense, if Google managed to index them in the first place.

Sure, 02 should have taken steps to avoid being indexed, but they aren't responsible for leaking the photos.

And It would be quite easy to write a script to try various combinations of 16 hex digits to try and randomly view a photo but depending on how many photos are being hosted the hit rate could be quite low.? Yeah, seeing as there are about 10^19 combinations, the hit rate would be fairly low. Did the author seriously consider this to be flaw?

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (3, Insightful)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251983)

Sure, 02 should have taken steps to avoid being indexed, but they aren't responsible for leaking the photos.

Their site is not suitabled secured, usually it would require a mobile number and pin code but this 16-digit code circumnavigates this requirement.

From TFA, apparently these are also being picked up by Google's Toolbar.

Surely if you'd MMS'd a friend a picture message, and they'd changed to a phone without MMS without you knowing - your picture will most likely be available on O2's website. Is this right? Should it be more secured? Or don't you care about who see's your 'private' conversations?

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (2, Interesting)

srjh (1316705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252185)

Surely if you'd MMS'd a friend a picture message, and they'd changed to a phone without MMS without you knowing - your picture will most likely be available on O2's website. Is this right? Should it be more secured? Or don't you care about who see's your 'private' conversations?

Yes, it probably should be more secure. Not allowing the pages to be indexed by Google would be a good start. But as it stands, unless there are further flaws I'm not aware of, you still need the 64 bit key to intercept the message. Unless the person I've sent a private message to makes that key public, the message should remain private.

On the other hand, I'm not under any delusions that privacy exists for SMS/MMS messages here in Australia, so I wouldn't send sensitive information through SMS/MMS in the first place. Not that it excuses any mistakes, I just have low expectations to begin with.

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252251)

Seriously? How many digits would you expect to be in a phone number + PIN?

Hey, did you know that you can log in to almost any site as any user simply by entering a bunch of letters and numbers into the login form?

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (2, Insightful)

Gandalf (787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252985)

Their site is not suitabled secured, usually it would require a mobile number and pin code but this 16-digit code circumnavigates this requirement.

I'd like to clarify this a bit to avoid that people think of the 16-digit code itself as insecure.

Any site built with performance in mind has a similar setup: you authenticate yourself through the main site, but the content is on a delivery network. This network serves static files and by design doesn't handle the dynamics of authentication (cookies, HTTP auth).

The idea is that using hard-to-guess ID tokens gives enough privacy: even if you were to guess or systematically scan them, you would get random content at best - you wouldn't have any information about the uploader or the context.

Users with access to the content can of course republish it in ways that bypass the authentication, but that's true for all on-line content: once access has been granted to an authenticatied and authorised user, security becomes a matter of trust.

The use of such IDs is not 100% secure but it's a good trade-off because ordinarily you have to be authenticated before you learn a specific ID.

The real problem with the O2 site is the lack of authentication on the pages referencing the hard-to-guess IDs, not the use of IDs themselves.

(The robots.txt omission isn't the real problem either, of course.)

Re:Not as bad as it sounds (3, Interesting)

daviddcawley (1194623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252063)

I'm the author of the post. It's true that there are 10^19 combinations if the 64-bit "keys" are secure and generated with a good PRNG. As I'm able to access the "keys" (without using any type of web based search) directly from O2 due to a security hole, it entirely circumvents the URL based authentication. I don't even need to guess any keys! I will update the blog next week with details of the full attack but I'd like to give O2 some time to fix this.

what is wrong with you people? (5, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251945)

Worse still, the majority of the images taken on cameras turns out to be children. Ironically, O2 has a website dedicated to "Protect Our Children", well a good first step would be to avoid leaking customer photos.

What bullshit idea is it that pictures of children need to be removed from the world? If you look at the history of photography, pictures of children have always been an important part of street photography, portraits, and artistic photography. In the US and many other places, it's legal to take pictures of children, even without permission of their parents. There are many pictures of children on Flickr and elsewhere.

There is no evidence that pictures of children place them at risk. Can we please stop and reverse this meme that there is anything wrong with taking pictures of children?

I don't really give a damn about pictures of children per se, but demonizing legitimate and legal content is a serious threat to free speech and democracy.

Re:what is wrong with you people? (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24251989)

So if you'd sent a picture message to a friend and it appeared in Google's listings, with your phone number and the text you wrote - you wouldn't care?

This isn't about the children, its about a mobile phone operator having an insecure website.

Re:what is wrong with you people? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252761)

It'd be your fault for posting the URL on a public forum.

Google can *only* index what it sees. Every single one of those images has been posted somewhere that google can index them.. ie. publically - that's the only way they can be in the search results.

Re:what is wrong with you people? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252865)

It's not the only way (think referrer) and anyway it's very shoddy security... Once you decide that users need to authenticate to access some content, you lock ALL such content and not just the gateway to it behind your auth system. Arcane URLs are not sufficient unless you want extremely low security.

Can't be true (1)

agro1986 (1328791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252043)

This is too stupid that it can't be true. It sounds too much like crapping up [agronesia.net] .

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252057)

...they use...
Apache/2.0.52 (Unix) DAV/2 mod_ssl/2.0.52 OpenSSL/0.9.7e mod_jk/1.2.21 Server at mediamessaging.o2.co.uk Port 80 ...which is supposedly a 'vulnerable' version of OpenSSL

the way it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252059)

actually, in Italy you can send mms via e-mail since a long long time. the mms is just converted server-side. if the recipient doesn't have a mms enabled phone Ã, he will receive a code to put in a form accessible only to REGISTERED USERS on the operator's website. I don't see any reason for bashing web 2.0 and things like that. I only see bad coders.

slashdoted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252071)

wow, seems their servers can't cope with it ;P

insider perspective (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252075)

UK Mobile Operator O2 allows its customers to send Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) photos to email recipients by way of a web interface

Opcos force you to these horrid web interfaces because they want to avoid becoming mere bitpipes and want to keep control over what you can / cannot send by email over your connection. Too bad for your MMS to blog dreams, which would be so easily realizable with REAL MMS-to-Email.

Re:insider perspective (1)

Gandalf (787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24253047)

Try a more direct approach: e-mail to blog. MMS is expensive, if you're going to post anywhere near twenty pictures a month from your phone you'll probably be better of with a plan that allows regular e-mail - for this task alone.

The devices are available and affordable, the service plans are available and affordable and plenty of affordable software is available.

There is even software (Shozu, Nokia Share Online) to allow all this directly over HTTP, removing even another step. On top of that, on smartphones these services even integrate into the phone interfaces to allow one-click uploads directly after taking the picture.

(I ended up writing my own e-mail solution because I don't want to depend on third-party hosting site and hookinto my own software. But it's really not that difficult to check an IMAP box for e-mail, fetch picture attachments and store them in a CMS.)

Its not O2, its Google (3, Interesting)

plierhead (570797) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252107)

Ridiculous summary that does not seem to be based on the actual article. This sounds like an issue with Google, not with O2.

It seems that O2 posts the images with a pretty well randomized URL (16 hex digits is not too bad in most people's books). And the URLs are not linked to any publicly crawlable page on O2's web site. So how does Google reach them?

The reason (if anyone cares to FTA) that they can be googled is that according to "Ken Simpson, CEO of anti-spam company MailChannels, is that one's Google Toolbar may be configured to pass URLs that one visits to Google for indexing. "If you run Google Toolbar, it knows pages you visit," he said."

So if the article is correct, Google in its wisdom has decided to treat a URL sent to someone with the Google toolbar in a private email as a publicly reachable URL.

I find this whole story pretty non-sensicle though - presumable Google would not make "click here to reset your password" links publicly reachable?

If the article is correct then I'd be stripping off the Google toolbar as quick as I could.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (1)

james b (31361) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252269)

It's a bit out of date, but this Matt Cutts blog entry [mattcutts.com] claims that the toolbar doesn't feed URLs into the web search index.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252349)

If the article is correct then I'd be stripping off the Google toolbar as quick as I could.

It's not correct, though. As has been pointed out there are less than 50 of the images indexed in Google, and they appear to have been posted publicly elsewhere.

There's no evidence that the Google toolbar is involved at all.

So it's a complete non-issue, just FUD by someone with an axe to grind or a desire to attract eyeballs to their blog. Business as usual here.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (2, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252471)

You missed a key point in the TFA:

I looked at the URL in the e-mail and found the only requirement was a 16 digit hex number. [Update: A few readers pointed out that a 64-bit key results in a HUGE number of possibilities to guess 10^19. However, as I can obtain the keys via another security hole no guessing is required - I'm not going to release that information yet as I'd like O2 to fix this]. As these web pages were wide open to the internet, not requiring any authentication a very small handful were indexed by Google. I was able to craft a Google search that results in some matches to show an example of how this is an insecure method of hosting:

In other words, the stuff that's on google is merely the tip of the iceberg. He can start randomly plucking valid hex codes out of thin air and start viewing random people's random MMS's. The google search is just a "proof of concept" if you will, of the larger flaw.

This could be, of course, untrue -- as we really only have his word to take for it that there is some "pattern" in picking valid hex codes.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252533)

No, this isn't an issue with Google. A search engine's job is to index things it finds on the web. If you put something on the web without any kind of password protection, then don't be surprised if it ends up being indexed by search engines. Just because you don't consider it an "official" part of your website because there isn't a link to it on your homepage, it doesn't mean that's true.

Incompetent web developers have been complaining about this for as long as search engines have been around. It's not an issue unique to the Google web toolbar either. You can get tripped up, for example, if a "secret" page linked elsewhere. The URL of the secret page gets sent as a Referer header, and may end up appearing in a log summary, which may or may not be public.

Bottom line: if you want something to be secret, a randomised URL is not enough. You need to actually put some kind of password protection on it.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (3, Informative)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252599)

No robots.txt
http://mediamessaging.o2.co.uk/robots.txt [o2.co.uk]

Nothing is telling Google (or Yahoo, or ...) not to index a page somebody linked to on some other page.

Re:Its not O2, its Google (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252971)

If the article is correct then I'd be stripping off the Google toolbar as quick as I could.

Except it's not: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/toolbar-indexing-debunk-post/ [mattcutts.com]

Re:Its not O2, its Google (1)

Gandalf (787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24253113)

No, it's not Google's fault.

O2 is responsible for ensuring that their pages are authenticated. Regardless of how a URL is known to Google, it should be free to crawl it. There are only two ways Google can know whether it is allowed to have it's content: robots.txt (which is a mere hint) and authentication handled by the site.

Googlebot doesn't have a cookie to authenticate itself so a proper site will simply tell it to log in or go away when accessing private pages, or simply not show anything marked private on pages that include content with different access levels.

Watch for the fallout (1)

one2wonder (1328797) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252111)

This is a SERIOUS breach of privacy. This will hit mainstream media. The fact that I can hit a google link and listen to people voice attachments, look at their photos - that's too public of a mistake. I look forward to watching this unfold.

Re:Watch for the fallout (2, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252209)

This is a SERIOUS breach of privacy. This will hit mainstream media. The fact that I can hit a google link and listen to people voice attachments, look at their photos - that's too public of a mistake. I look forward to watching this unfold.

Umm... yesterday it hit the TV news that in the last 4 years the MoD has lost ~650 laptops - many containing classified information. It made the mainstream news, I'm sure people are moaning, and there'll probably be an "enquiry" which will take a few months and cost a few million eventually leading to nothing and, as always, nothing will change.

By comparison a few photos and sound-bites is nothing. This will probably be a 1/8th page article on page 32 and that'll be the end of that.

In the UK the prevalence of data collection is so great and the ineptitude of governments and companies is so absolute that this stuff is just commonplace now. Even if this story gets picked up anywhere it'll be overshadowed within days by a bigger data breach fuck-up somewhere else.

Look out, it's a trap! (3, Funny)

Airw0lf (795770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252117)

1. Leak MMS Photos
2. Watch people as they go through the photos
3. Arrest anyone who stumbles upon an underage photo (Someone please think of the children!)
4. ???
5. Profit! (Or at the very least, create a big carnival sideshow about capturing hordes of perverts in the act in order to distract attention from the massive privacy breach.)

Unfortunately no nude pics (4, Funny)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252119)

It's amazing how many people have boring pictures and enjoy sending pictures of their ugly kids.

I think O2 should have the decency to warn people about this but they haven't and I know that because I'm an O2 customer. Thankfully I only use my phone for calls so this doesn't affect me.

Re:Unfortunately no nude pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252187)

Thankfully I only use my phone for calls so this doesn't affect me.

Then you're part of the problem man. Grab a chick and get to work, what are you waiting for?

This is not new for O2. (1)

Deleriux (709637) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252323)

I used to work for O2, not in the technical department.

I found a javascript injection attack on their public facing website that let you log in as anybody. Literally, any user. They eventually fixed the flaw after I reported it, but what their attitude for me finding the flaw was ridiculous.
They felt I had wasted their time by bringing it up. Worse still, they considered disciplining me for "wasting time".

The head of IT security at the time subtley hinted I had wasted their programmers time too.

This kind of situation does not surprise me, the quality of their internal websites security is lackluster (they are regularly being hacked by their own staff!) and have in the past installed untested web applications internally which were not properly tested for security.

People seem to think that the 16 digit hex code is "good enough". I digress. For a international communications company that uses the beauroucratic ITIL method for change control this is not very good as it signifies that this was acceptable when checked through numerous channels.

It would not have been difficult to require a sessionable random variable to match along with the key before allowing this.

Crawl (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252365)

I wonder if the admins will notice wget climb up in the user-agent tables...

Text and phone numbers too (1)

aembleton (324527) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252387)

These MMS messages also show any text and the senders phone number. For example this one has text, several photos and a mobile phone number: http://mediamessaging.o2.co.uk/mms2legacy/showMessage2.do?encMmsId=4DC8E22F33EFC13C [o2.co.uk]

This should be easy to fix with some authentication, I guess o2 will get onto this soon before the mainstream media catch on.

Re:Text and phone numbers too (1)

aembleton (324527) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252413)

I've just realised that the reason Google had indexed that MMS along with the others is because they've been linked to from other websites. For example the one I pasted above is linked to here http://1000milesdown.blogspot.com/2008/04/day-3-foyers-connell-84-miles.html [blogspot.com]

I guess, in a way this isn't really a security problem, but more like a 'feature'. It gives you some space to store a message that you can then link to and uses a 16 digit hex key to hide the message through obscurity.

Don't think O2 is that at fault here (2, Informative)

AC-x (735297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252503)

Given the small number of results here I'd say that those pages were linked from somewhere else (a forum or someones homepage maybe?) which allowed google to index them.

Google's spider isn't magic, it can only find things that are linked to from another public site (given google's don't be evil mantra I doubt they'd start indexing links from emails etc.)

Still O2 should probably add some no index tags as it does give people a way to list all O2's public mms', with probably a broader audience then whoever posted them would like

Re:Don't think O2 is that at fault here (1)

daviddcawley (1194623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252523)

Even if O2 did prevent indexing of these webpages the leak still exists. I'm able to find keys due to a security hole in O2's servers and I'll update the blog with the full details after giving O2 time to respond. Here's an example if you don't believe me: http://mediamessaging.o2.co.uk/mms2legacy/showMessage2.do?encMmsId=66544E5699B42021 [o2.co.uk] You will NOT find that indexed on Google or any other websearch.

Re:Don't think O2 is that at fault here (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252795)

O2's site is giving 503 errors now.. either slashdotted or someone at O2 pulled the plug.

Re:Don't think O2 is that at fault here (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24252839)

I believe what you are saying, but that link is equally well explained by you or someone you know being an O2 customer.

Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24252643)

The O2 site has crumbled under the /. load...

Laws (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24253075)

The sad thing is, that despite there being several laws in place that could be used to punish these companies (Computer Misuse Act [opsi.gov.uk] , 1990 and the Data Protection Act [opsi.gov.uk] , 1998 spring to mind) they wont be.

In light of the number of breaches recently (such as the MOD losing restricted USB sticks [theregister.co.uk] , the Inland Revenue losing records [google.co.uk] and even the damn Navy losing recruiting information [google.co.uk] ), I'll wager the government will introduce another new law to deal with this but still, you know not actually do anything about it.

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