Hilton Awards Program Flaw Exposed All Accounts
- By Matt Holden
- Mar 24, 2015
A recent offer from the Hilton HHonors program to give members 1,000 free points for agreeing to change their passwords led to the discovery of a flaw in the site that could let anyone hijack a Hilton Honors account simply by guessing the 9-digit account number.
Brandon Potter and JB Snyder of the security firm Bancsec discovered the flaw once they realized they could steal other accounts by knowing the account number. It only took a small amount of changes to the HTML content.
Once inside the accounts, a hacker could change the password, view past and upcoming travel, redeem points for travel and hotel reservations, and even have points sent as cash or prepaid cards to another account.
“Hilton Worldwide recently confirmed a vulnerability on a section of our Hilton HHonors website, and we took immediate action to remediate the vulnerability,” Hilton wrote in an emailed statement. “As always, we encourage Hilton HHonors members to review their accounts and update their online passwords regularly as a precaution. Hilton Worldwide takes information security very seriously and we are committed to safeguarding our guests’ personal information.”
Snyder attributes the flaw to a web application weakness called a cross-site request forgery (CSRF), which is when an attack occurs on a user’s computer causing the web browser to perform unwanted actions on a trusted site.
This flaw not only exposed account information related to Hilton, but personal information as well, such as email and physical addresses and the last four digits of any credit card on file.
“If they have so much personal information on people, they should be required to do Web application testing before publishing changes to the internet,” Snyder said. “Especially if they have millions of users like I’m sure they do.”
Matt Holden is an Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media, Inc. He received his MFA and BA in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He currently writes and edits for Occupational Health & Safety magazine, and Security Today.