Australian police investigating teen who found database flaw

Joshua Rogers said the SQL injection flaw allowed access to 600,000 records with personal information

Joshua Rogers of Melbourne is facing a police investigation for finding a database flaw in Public Transport Victoria's website despite notifying the organization of the issue on Dec. 26.

Joshua Rogers of Melbourne is facing a police investigation for finding a database flaw in Public Transport Victoria's website despite notifying the organization of the issue on Dec. 26.

An Australian teenager who notified a public transport agency of a serious database flaw is under police investigation.

Joshua Rogers, 16, of Melbourne, found a SQL injection flaw in a database owned by Public Transport Victoria (PTV), which runs the state's transport system.

The flaw allowed access to a database containing 600,000 records, including partial credit card numbers, addresses, e-mails, passwords, birth dates, phone numbers and senior citizen card numbers.

A PTV spokeswoman said Friday police were notified as a "matter of process" because of the breach. She said she could not comment if PTV wanted to see Rogers prosecuted.

Rogers sent an email to PTV on Dec. 26, which is the Boxing Day public holiday in Australia. He described himself as a white-hat hacker, a term used to describe security researchers who do not mean harm.

"I've found a very serious vulnerability in the website that discloses critical information stored on the server," according to the email, provided to IDG News Service by Rogers. "I'd like to report this vulnerability, but I'm unsure as to whom to contact."

Rogers said he sent the email to 13 employees, including "it.helpdesk@ptv.vic.gov.au," an address listed in the WHOIS domain records for PTV's mobile site, metlink.mobi, and PTV's CIO.

After not getting a response, he contacted Fairfax, the publisher of The Age, Melbourne's daily newspaper. The Age wrote it contacted PTV about the issue, and Rogers learned he'd been reported to Victoria Police.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said via email on Friday that it received PTV's report "relating to the unauthorized access to their network."

"As the matter is currently under investigation, we are not in a position to comment," according to a statement.

Rogers said via email that he downloaded two or three records from the database as part of his research, then deleted the data. The credit card information was incomplete, but he said was only missing three numbers.

It's not uncommon for security researchers to go public with vulnerability information if they do not receive acknowledgement from an organization. In Rogers' case, he went to the publisher to tell them of the flaw, but did not release details of the flaw itself or personal information from the database.

In a statement, PTV maintained that it learned of the flaw from a "third party," referring to Rogers, and that the database in question is no longer in use.

PTV maintains the database was "illegally accessed" and that it has also reported the incident to Privacy Victoria, the state's privacy commissioner and data regulator, according to the statement. It said the database is not linked to "myki," the state's transport smart card, which can be topped up with money online.

"PTV can confirm that this is the only known attack on its website," it said.

Rogers said Friday the police had not contacted him yet. "The fact that PTV have contacted the police is no surprise, and I have prepared for that to happen," Rogers said. They want to detract attention from their blunders, so they will go after me."

"I've done nothing wrong," he said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityPublic Transport Victoriadata protection

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?