May 26, 2022

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Ethical hacker cites Autogids.be as data breach among 600,000 car enthusiasts: 'I just wanted to help, but now I'm accused of theft' |  Technique

Ethical hacker cites Autogids.be as data breach among 600,000 car enthusiasts: ‘I just wanted to help, but now I’m accused of theft’ | Technique

Autogids.be wrongly accuses the security specialist of criminal hacking. This is evident from an investigation by HLN and VTM Nieuws. The IT professional just wanted to point out a computer error on the auto site, leaving the data of about 600,000 accounts at risk: “I didn’t steal any data and I don’t want money.”

Yesterday ProduPress sent an email to all of its customers with the message that their sites are under attack by hackers: “Unknown persons have attempted to access the data servers of AutoGids/Moniteur Automobile. At the moment, we are not yet aware that any stolen data would have been used illegally. However, we would like to inform you of the situation through these means as a precaution,” it seems.

But after an exclusive conversation with the so-called hacker, who prefers to remain anonymous, little of that appears to be true. “First of all, I’m a security specialist,” says the Pakistani man. “I search companies’ websites, check if they are well protected. At Autogids.be I discovered a sensitivity in their system, which allowed you to touch the data of 600,000 accounts. Anyone who knows the basics of hacking can easily steal this data.”

I just reported a problem

On March 22, the security specialist decided to send an email to Autogids.be: “I have clearly posted that I have found a security issue on their site. I have added a screenshot as evidence.” Our editors were also aware of the problem at the time and contacted Autogids that same week. We promised them not to publish an article until everything was fine. But we wanted to know what data is involved, to inform our readers. After that, ProduPress didn’t tell our IT specialist or our editors anything.

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“On March 30, I sent a second email as a reminder. After all, the issue was not resolved after that, the man continues.

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So the security specialist was surprised when he suddenly reported to Autogids.be that he had been attacked by a hacker. “I didn’t understand. I didn’t get charged for my services. Now I heard that a complaint was filed against me with the police.”

Produpress, the media company behind Autogids.be, has now sent out an email informing them that they had only been contacted by an ethical hacker a week ago.

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