Some still don’t get it!

This post is about security, so if you are not into that, feel free to skip it.

Today I get a friendly email from the national railroad company of Belgium (NMBS) in which they announced a brand new site to order international train tickets. It also mentioned that instead of using my made up user name I could now use the email address I used while registering to log in.

That sounds great, another site that uses an email address to log in instead of something like “johnsmith342”.

Then they kind of messed up. For my convenience and to make sure I would be able to use their shiny new site to buy lots of international train tickets they included my password. Yes, you read that right, they mailed me my password. Without me asking for it.

They have no clue about processes and procedures for dealing with passwords. They are not helping the world in teaching people how to deal with authentication secrets, social engineer and phishing.

I can only hope the password is not stored clear text. Due to password policies it is often necessary to access the password in clear text, only storing a hash is not working any more. Common databases like Microsoft Active Directory, Novell eDirectory and probably many others use two way encryption to store passwords. They have many secure access layers between a public api and the encryption keys to access to the clear text version of the password.

Honestly, emailing me my own password without my consent doesn’t generate a lot of trust in how they deal with sensitive information. That includes my trust in how they store my password in their systems.