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It’s worse than you thought: TAS security bug leaked new gTLD applicant data

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2012, Domain Registries

The bug that brought down ICANN’s TLD Application System yesterday was actually a security hole that leaked data about new gTLD applications.

The vulnerability enabled TAS users to view the file names and user names of other applicants, ICANN said this morning.

COO Akram Atallah said in a statement:

We have learned of a possible glitch in the TLD application system software that has allowed a limited number of users to view some other users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios.

Out of an abundance of caution, we took the system offline to protect applicant data. We are examining how this issue occurred and considering appropriate steps forward.

Given the level of secrecy surrounding the new gTLD application process, this vulnerability ranks pretty highly on the This Is Exactly What We Didn’t Want To Happen scale.

It’s not difficult to imagine scenarios in which a TAS user name or file name contains the gTLD string being applied for.

This is important, competition-sensitive data. If it’s been leaked, serious questions are raised about the integrity of the new gTLD program.

How long was this vulnerability present in TAS? Which applicants were able to look at which other applicants’ data? Did any applicants then act on this inside knowledge by filing competing bids?

If it transpires that any company filed a gTLD application specifically in order to shake down applicants whose data was revealed by this vulnerability, ICANN is in for a world of hurt.

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