Linden Lab in another data security breach. Possibly payment details, definitely cardholder name and email address

Linden Lab has outsourced the processing of payment details to a company called Dragonfish, who claim to be  “The Leading Provider of Online Gaming Solutions”.  How true this claim may be is for others to decide, one thing is certain, they appear to play fast and loose with their customer’s credit card data.

Apparently Dragonfish/Cassava Enterprises (the parent company) passes at least the card holder name and the email address to other gambling sites, this has been confirmed by people who have received spam email for gambling sites to email addresses that are only used for Second Life purposes*.  More worrying is that card holder names are also being passed, this claim was made by someone who received a spam email to the Second Life account used by the account holder yet addressed to the card holder name which was someone who had allowed them to use the card to make payment to Linden Lab*.

Added to this was the extremely poor method of verifying a card holder.  All reputable payment processing organisations use the card verification plugin provided by the credit card company (think “Verified by Visa” and the rest) but not Dragonfish, they send emails with the following text* before they even use the security provided by the card companies. This of course is unnecessary as the card company is best placed to verify the card, so the question arises as to why this effort is being spent on obtaining copies of the card.

(*to view links marked * you need a Second Life account and be logged into the forum.)

Operations Department – Second Life to me
show details 2:48 PM (2 hours ago)

Dear Resident,

I am Paramjit B. from the Operations Department at Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd. I am contacting you with regards to your Linden Lab account with username “(name redacted)“.

As part of our continued efforts to provide confidence and security for all of our members, we will always seek to verify the ownership of any credit cards used to make a deposit. As such your account may experience enhanced security steps at deposit stage, including processing through Verified By Visa or Mastercard Secure.

To process your deposits without this requirement and in order to become a fully verified customer, please send us the following documentation –

-  A photocopy of your credit card ending # 0479 (front & back)
-  A photocopy of your national identity document such as an ID card, Passport or Driver’s License

These documents can be sent to us by you uploading them through the link:

http://secondlife.com/my/account/billing-verification

Please copy and paste the above address directly to your web browser. You will then be prompted to enter your username and password. You will then be guided through a simple process to upload the requested documentation.

Please note that to ensure the security of your documents we have implemented powerful security policies, rules and technical measures to protect the financial security of our Residents. However, please make sure that you block the middle 8 numbers of any credit/debit card uploaded and also block the CVV (3 digit code) on the back of such cards.

If you have any further queries with regards to our requests please review first our Frequently Asked Questions, located on the “Contact Us” tab of the website. Here you will find all the information on why we routinely request documents, how it is possible to send these documents, and the type of documents that we will accept. All these questions and more are answered by typing in the relevant key words to the Frequently Asked Questions search option.

Many thanks for your continued patience and co-operation in this matter.

Regards
Paramjit B.
Payment Operations
Second Life

I did smile wryly at the claim they have “powerful security policies” but then ask you to remove some of the card details and in breach of best practice for financial services, they provide a link to the web page to upload the documents.

Neither Linden Lab nor Dragonfish have ever provided details of their customer data handling procedures.  If you ever send sensitive documents like this to Linden Lab you have no idea what becomes of them, for example;

  • who has access to the data? (apparently everyone by the look of it),
  • if the information is printed out, how is it disposed of?

This is a concern as Linden Lab has had data security breaches in the past which they never advise their customers of.  Those we do know about range from the wholesale breach of the database in 2006 which resulting in everyone being advised to change their password to last year when accounts were compromised but only those affected were notified when they tried to access their account and the doubts (now realised with this Dragonfish leak) about their commitment to protecting their customer data, giving Linden Lab your data is a risky business and on the balance of probabilities, sending them copies of your ID is foolhardy.

It’s been 8 months since full payment options were available to Second Life users.  Apparently Dragonfish are having problems delivering the solution.  If Linden Lab were any one else, the fact that their new supplier of services had effectively stopped some overseas customers paying them would have been a big deal.  Linden Lab appear to be fine with it and apart from reinstating PayPal payments last week after some pressure and bad publicity due to people losing their regions and accounts due to LL not providing a mechanism for their customers to pay them.  This project seems to continue to meander along with a possible release date of this month, yet as usual the Beta deployment isn’t even what would normally be considered Alpha, let alone deployed for customer use due to the sensitive nature of the transactions.

Will I use local payments when it’s finally released?  No.  If I ever have to add new payment details and Dragonfish is the only choice then I won’t be doing it. There’s nothing I need in Second Life that would make me provide my details a site that cannot keep the financial data secure.

How will you know if your data has been compromised?

You can’t really, if you live outside the United States and in particular Europe and have recently used Linden Lab’s local payment option (new accounts apparently were forced to join the beta test for this, for the rest it was “voluntary”), it is very likely that you have had your credit card details compromised.   There will be a couple of indicators that arouse your suspicions.

  • You should have received spam emails from gambling sites.  Although, if you use a provider such as gmail, yahoo or hotmail you may not have received them as the spam filters
  • You may see unusual transactions on your card statements

What you can do

  • Check your spam folder to see if you’ve received any spam emails from gambling sites
  • You should check your card statements, and
  • Consider making a complaint to you local data protection commissioner.

Here is the link to the European Data Protection authorities: http://www.dataprotection.ie/ViewDoc.asp?fn=%2Fdocuments%2Feuropean%2F6f.htm&CatID=37&m=i

Here’s the UK one: http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/data_protection.aspx

How do I know if my problem is a data protection problem?

You might have a data protection problem if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have been denied any of your rights, including your right to see the personal information an organisation holds about you.
  • Personal information about you is used, held or disclosed:
    • unfairly
    • for a reason that is not the one it was collected for, or
    • without proper security.
  • Personal information about you is:
    • inadequate, irrelevant or excessive
    • inaccurate or out of date, or
    • kept for longer than is necessary.

I’ve highlighted the relevant reasons for the complaint.

Dragonfish has a UK office, you may like to also lodge a formal complaint with them.

Dragonfish UK

20 Thayer Street
London
UK
W1U 2DD

As always, carefully think about the information you provide to Linden Lab.  The risk of it being accessed by unauthorised people appears to be continuous and real.

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4 Responses to Linden Lab in another data security breach. Possibly payment details, definitely cardholder name and email address

  1. Pingback: Linden Lab in another data security breach. Possibly payment details, definitely cardholder name and email address | visadebit.biz

  2. Pete Linden says:

    FJ Linden has posted about on this issue in the forum thread you link to above: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Off-Topic/Client-Data-leaks-from-LL/m-p/893203#M8733

    Protecting our users’ privacy (http://secondlife.com/corporate/privacy.php) is of the utmost importance to Linden Lab. Based on our investigation, we have determined that the spam was not the result of a security breach or our billing partner selling Second Life users’ data to any third-party.

    So, what happened? Unfortunately, it looks to be a case of email addresses collected by spyware, which can happen via a third-party application or website. The advertised site is not a property of Linden Lab or any of our partners. More information about this type of activity, and how email addresses are obtained through third-party software or websites, can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyware

  3. disgruntled says:

    I didn’t see Pete’s comment above until I had published my latest post. As you will see from that post Pete, I’m not accepting the argument that it is spyware.

    I wish it was but the information that has been given by people is too great a coincidence for other scenarios to be ignored. I’m prepared to believe it is someone within Dragonfish rather than Linden Lab but the email with card holder name is a coincidence too far and deserves more attention.

  4. disgruntled says:

    and Pete, my tuppence for this is..

    the best thing you can do is dump this on Dragonfish and ask them to explain with a timeframe for them to report back, put out a statement (not buried in a forum thread if you can help it) stating you’ve asked them to confirm they had not suffered a data breach and have requested an explanation of how they believe this has occurred in light of the information you’ve been given and then gather any other information/emails from your customers while you are waiting.

    Once Linden Lab has established that you don’t hold the details that are known to have been used (card holder details, which I assume you no longer do as Dragonfish now manages that) then it’s squarely back to them to confirm the leak is not at their end. If it wasn’t for that email that had been sent asking for the photocopies I would be less inclined to believe but that email wasn’t something I would have expected from a payment processor that also uses card issuer validation.

    After all, Linden Lab is the client here and you do need to have confidence in the processor you have chosen.

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