Ok, been meaning to write a little about this, just couldn’t find the time.

To ALL those in charge of taking private information via secure webforms (credit cards, SSN, etc..) PLEASE READ THIS.

Yes, you must use an SSL encrypted webpage, yes you must only give that information collected to those who are directly responsible for billing the transaction. But DO NOT EMAIL all the information to anyone, and certainly don’t include it in the confirmation email!

I say this because I recently registered for a workshop I plan on attending. I’m not going to name the institution that is running it, nor am I going to mention the name of the course (though I must admit if I was presenting at the workshop I would be very pissed to learn that this was how they were sending confirmation emails). My company is paying for the workshop so they used the company credit card and the administrative assistant took care of the registration for me. Shortly after they registered me, I received the confirmation email. What did I find in that email that they sent to me (and to one other email address that we didn’t recognize), my contact information, all the contact information for the person holding our company card, the full credit card number, the Expiration date, and the CCV Code!

They emailed out everything you could possibly need to use the credit card at any online vendor in a plain text email over the unencrypted PUBLIC INTERNET!!!!

The fact that they had a nice SSL encrypted website to take this information just made the situation worse. Through their actions they have violated the trust relation they setup by presenting what appeared to be a secure internet transaction. By emailing the information they collected back over the internet, they placed that information at even more risk than if it was not emailed, but didn’t use an SSL cert. Now our credit information is being cached unencrypted on at least 2 email servers (most likely 4 or more) for who knows how long. If those machines are compromised or someone was having fun watching that traffic, they could now be purchasing a couple of big screen HDTV’s maybe a laptop or 4, subscribing to every porn site they want, etc..

People have got to remember that your responsibility for the secure transaction on the web doesn’t end at the SSL encrypted webform. It continues for as long as you hold and maintain that private information. End-to-end, review your policies, before it comes back to bite you.

I’ve been nice and I’m trying to work with these people to make sure they get this corrected. So far they seem to be listening (though action is a little slower). Hopefully they will get it, time will tell. If I had been someone less friendly, this could have been a much bigger headache for them.