Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hacking chocolates and the security mindset

Who doesn’t like chocolate? I am a big fan of a Brazilian coffee/chocolate chain called Ychocolates (fictitious name). They produce good chocolates and serve good coffee as well. Recently they introduced a simple loyalty program: you buy products there and earn points for each purchase. After certain amount of points, you can redeem them and transform them into a delicious chocolate. It sounds simple and straightforward. To participate in this program the person needs to supply their name, an CPF (Brazilian identification number) and a phone number. 

Every time a person goes into one of their stores and buy something, they should supply their CPF and get the points. Once you inform your CPF the cashier (verbally) will tell you how many points you have earned so far. If you have the minimum amount of points for a reward, you can get a chocolate. I’ve noticed cashiers always inform the accumulated points to the customer. It seems to be part of a procedure. I personally used my points a few times. Basically, I bought a coffee, informed my CPF and the cashier told me I have over 75 points and If I would like to redeem them. 

That’s it. What is the issue here? The issue is cashiers never asked me to prove who I am. I could simple inform my CPF and redeem the points. A not well-intentioned person could simple goes to the store, buys something and stays around the people and the cashier, listening to them talking about CPF and how many points they have. He could take note on the CPF of the person and once he has it in hands, he could return to the store later, buy something (or not), inform this CPF and redeem the points. Done! A new piece of chocolate is available. 

Main intention of this post is not to call your attention to the vulnerabilities/controls found in this scenario but rather than that, the security mindset involved. A security mindset involves looking at the world with a different perspective. It is in a certain way the ability to think maliciously. Think how to cheat a system. Could this skill be taught? How this could be achieved? This skill is important for people who are designing things and of course, for security professionals as well. 
Bruce Schneier wrote an excellent article about it years ago. At the end, this was just another daily security mindset exercise! What vulnerabilities have you found today?

(PS: I've talked to the company and they are making sure controls will be enforced)

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