How to prevent a website compromise like StubHub

The use of stolen passwords to compromise the website of ticket seller StubHub is a reminder that additional layers of protection are often needed for sites holding sensitive data.

Security experts recommended Thursday that businesses running sites that provide services to partners, employees and customers should consider several options for derailing hackers with stolen user credentials.

[Arrests made after international cyber-ring targets StubHub]

"This is absolutely a critical issue today," Tyler Krpata, lead security manager for Security Innovation, said. "It's clear that for use cases that involve sensitive information or financial transactions, password authentication by itself is no longer adequate for security,"

In the case of StubHub, roughly 1,600 accounts were illegally accessed and more than 3,500 tickets bought for events that included Broadway shows and concerts by big-name pop stars, such as Elton John, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.

The compromise, discovered in March 2013, became public Wednesday when New York City prosecutors announced that six people had been indicted and charged with running an international crime ring.

The password-complementing technology that could help businesses avoid a StubHub-like compromise includes two-factor authentication and fraud detection techniques.

Adding such technology is an added expense. In addition, it could require more work on the part of the user.

Therefore, companies have to weigh the damage that would result from a breach with the additional cost and user inconvenience.

With two-factor authentication, a one-time PIN could be sent to a person's mobile phone. The PIN would have to be inputted along with the username and password to access the site.

The technology can be difficult to deploy, but there are lots of vendors that provide tools to ease the pain.

The other recommendation is fraud detection. One of the most common techniques is to perform additional security checks when anomalies occur during the login process.

Suspicious behavior could include a computer or mobile device with an unrecognized IP address. Another bad sign is a user who typically logs in during work hours suddenly tries to get in at 3 a.m.

Other activities that are red flags include multiple rapid logins from a single IP address and logins that bypass the normal pages people go to, Robert Hansen, vice president of labs at WhiteHat Security, said.

If such activity occurs, then the user could be asked a personal question on file, such as his best friend in grade school, before allowed into the site.

Because hackers are constantly looking for ways to circumvent fraud detection techniques, whatever is used on a site has to be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still effective.

"As attacker techniques evolve to cope with these defenses, more advanced fraud detection might become necessary," Krpata, said.

[StubHub scalps fraudsters]

The StubHub compromise was unusual only in the arrest of suspects. Most website compromises do not end with the alleged crooks in custody.

"Website compromises, and resulting data losses, are extremely common these days," Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology officer of WhiteHat, said. "The consequences of these breaches often extend well beyond the primary impacted businesses."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationswebsite securityfraud detection systemspassword authentication systemsStubHubsoftwaredata protectionwebsite hackfraud preventionWeb site vulnerabiltypassword securitypassword stealing

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts