Published On: Mon, Aug 27th, 2018

Major Spectrum Security Flaw Could Allow Hackers to Access Accounts

Spectrum is one of the biggest cable and internet providers in the USA, certainly big enough that you would expect the company to know what they’re doing when it comes to basic cybersecurity. However, a hugely embarrassing security flaw, one which allowed an attacker to take over other customer’s accounts without a password, has been revealed and reportedly fixed.

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

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To the credit of Spectrum’s parent company Charter Communications, they reacted very quickly when they were first alerted about the issue, and a patch was promptly issued. Spectrum reassured that this vulnerability was never exploited beyond the two security researchers who discovered it demonstrating their proof-of-concept.

But the security lapse falls squarely into the realm of “things that should never happen.” With access to a customer’s account, hackers could easily find personal identifying information about the user, including their billing address and email address.

This information might sound relatively innocuous at first sight, but it is a goldmine for a social engineering attack. In other words, it would be very easy to put on a convincing show for a customer service rep using the above information. That might be used to extract more data, or even to craft spear-phishing emails (a phishing email that is crafted for a specific individual).

The Attack

The myTWC app gives users a way to manage their accounts with Spectrum’s wide array of services. The app makes it more convenient for users to monitor their usage, pay their bills, and conduct general account management. One other useful feature of the app is to show you any devices that are connected to your account. It also gives you the IP and MAC addresses of these devices, so you can identify them.

So, if attackers gain access to a user’s account, they could then find the MAC and IP addresses of a number of the user’s devices. With this information, it’s possible to impersonate one of these devices and conduct man-in-the-middle attacks. A man in the middle attack involves an attacker positioning themselves on a network, between the user and the internet. This is usually done by broadcasting a fake SSID that looks like a router or Wi-Fi hotspot. The user will think they are online as usual, but all their traffic will go through the attacker’s device.


In mitigation, Charter Communications have suggested that only a relatively small subset of their user base was affected by the issue. Users are not required to have or use a TWC ID, although Charter Communications would not specify how many users were in this group.

Charter Communications is the second largest cable provider in the United States. A few years ago, the enterprise purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House, unifying them into a single brand, Spectrum. That a player of Spectrum’s size could allow such a basic security hole in their network demonstrates how far behind major corporations are when it comes to cybersecurity. It seems that even basic practices are still a rarity in the corporate world. As businesses of all kinds continue to digitize and to collect and store more of our personal data, it is vital that there is widespread trust in how big corporations will use that data, and who they will give access to it.

Staying Safe

While it is unfortunate that security lapses on the part of the private businesses we give our data to can undermine our efforts, it is still worth following some basic best practices of your own to keep your data safe.

First and foremost, acquire a professional antimalware solution. Such a tool is essential as it is designed to identify and terminate any virtual security threat automatically.

To further enhance your cybersecurity consider investing into a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN is a secure communication protocol that was initially developed for internal corporate communication. Over time the technology has gained popularity among casual users. However, not without controversies. As VPN services grew in popularity among cybercriminals, the technology earned a dubious reputation. It’s worth noting that some countries ban the use of VPN; of course, those countries are run by governments with overreaching powers. The truth of the matter is that VPN is a tool that can be used in a number of ways, and it should be used to improve one’s security and privacy online. Especially now, when so many high-profile cyber-attacks are taking place.

Author: Scott O’Haire

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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  2. digitalfuture says:

    Are there still people who don’t use VPNs? I can’t imagine browsing online without it. I even made all my family use it. I had a few misunderstandings with different providers in the past, so having a reliable service is important to me. I’m using NordVPN for a few months and so far I’m pleased with the service I get. Of course, I often check IPleak to see if everything’s okay anyway.

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