Third Party Apps: The Next Big Data Sharing Scandal?

As more details emerge about a hack on Ticketmaster’s site, the next data-sharing scandal could be about to break.

In June Ticketmaster confirmed that hackers may have pilfered personal and payment information from customers using its UK site.

Tech security firm RiskIQ has reported that, in order to skim credit card details, the thieves tweaked an element of the Ticketmaster site.

That element had been provided by a company called Inbenta, which offers website owners various tracking and site management tools.

Somehow, the bespoke website widget that Inbenta gave to Ticketmaster was hacked, allowing the thieves to try to skim off payment details.

RiskIQ are unsure whether the hack happened at Inbenta’s end or at Ticketmaster. For its part, Inbenta claims that the way Ticketmaster installed the widget created a “greater risk for vulnerability”. Ticketmaster says it disabled the Inbenta widget across all its sites after discovering the breach, and that its investigation is ongoing. Both companies say they are working hard to deal with the hack and prevent future occurrences.

The bigger picture is more worrying. RiskIQ claims it has found hacked widgets from various companies on hundreds of different sites around the world. As web developers increasingly rely on code built by others, we can expect to see more such breaches, with ensuing arguments over who was to blame. Meanwhile customers are caught in the middle.

It is an issue which affects not only the illegal use of data, but the legitimate data industry too. Researcher Mark Richards has been probing the third party technology running on websites handling sensitive data, particularly banks and the UK’s National Health Service. His petition for a Parliamentary debate on the issue has just been published.

In the wake of the data sharing scandal over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the building of websites using third party widgets could be the stage for the next big story.

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