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.

SecOps: Clear opportunities for powerful collaboration
If there’s one thing security and IT ops professionals should do this year, the words ‘team up’ should be top priority.
Interview: Culture and cloud - the battle for cybersecurity
ESET CTO Juraj Malcho talks about the importance of culture in a cybersecurity strategy and the challenges and benefits of a world in the cloud.
Enterprise cloud deployments being exploited by cybercriminals
A new report has revealed a concerning number of enterprises still believe security is the responsibility of the cloud service provider.
Ping Identity Platform updated with new CX and IT automation
The new versions improve the user and administrative experience, while also aiming to meet enterprise needs to operate quickly and purposefully.
Venafi and nCipher Security partner on machine identity protection
Cryptographic keys serve as machine identities and are the foundation of enterprise information technology systems.
Machine learning is a tool and the bad guys are using it
KPMG NZ’s CIO and ESET’s CTO spoke at a recent cybersecurity conference about how machine learning and data analytics are not to be feared, but used.
Seagate: Data trends, opportunities, and challenges at the edge
The development of edge technology and the rise of big data have brought many opportunities for data infrastructure companies to the fore.
Popular Android apps track users and violate Google's policies
Google has reportedly taken action against some of the violators.