Daily Mail readers wince as Mail Online slices and dices their data

Filed Under: Data loss, Featured, Privacy

If you're from the US, you might not realize that the world's most popular online newspaper is The Daily Mail - or, more properly for the online version of the tabloid, Mail Online.

In which case, you poor, ignorant reader, O MY GOD GO THERE NOW because Leonardo DiCaprio was caught leering at his black-bikini-clad new girlfriend through a pair of binoculars.

The Victoria's Secret Angel model obviously "doesn't have an inch to pinch" on that 6-foot frame!!!!!!

Ahem.

The pub, known, as The Register's Kelly Fiveash put it, for "displaying loads of pictures of tits and ass online normally alongside an equal amount of outrage about tits and ass online", has admitted to an "URGENT problem" with its users' profiles.

Tuesday morning, readers started grousing about the security issue, which appears to involve data implants being forcibly grafted onto users.

To wit, a complaint from "pink 64":

"Last night I tried to log into my 'Mail Online' profile, which is different to my Femail one. Instead of 'me' I got someone else's details, including his full name, date of birth and email address! There is a thread about this on the computer board, but I don't know if our 'everyday users' realised this happened. It is possible that your 'Mail Online' profile has been compromised and that someone else has had access to your details, including your full name, email address, date of birth and even the town where you live!"

Yes, Mail Online forcibly transgendered, transnamed, transaddressed and transbirthdayed at least some users.

Senior Communities Editor Tessa Meneux jumped on the forum around the middle of a nice lunch break to breathlessly inform readers that she'd been pecking away at notification emails about a glitch with the user profile display:

"I've been frantically emailing readers this morning.

"Last night we had a technical issue with our user profile and login service that resulted in a bug with the display of user profiles. When viewing your profile page users were presented with a copy of another users profile page instead of their own. The issue is now resolved."

Mail Online takes readers' privacy "very seriously," she said, and has undertaken "rigorous tests" to ensure that user data is secure. But no worries, nobody's seen any password or "other encrypted data," she said, nor could they post comments on your behalf or change anybody's profile.

She gave no details about what type of encryption was used on the data, so those who've registered with the site can judge for themselves how rigorous they think the pub is about keeping things buttoned up.

In spite of Meneux's reassurances, readers got down to the most salient point to be established in any data breach, be it major or minor.

Namely, "How do I make money off of this?"

"That was a serious breach of security ....wish i had known i would never have joined this forum ....was there any compensation offered for the security breach? If not why not???"

Why not indeed, "00lisa00", who is explicitly not me???

One commenter, gemmalouxoxo, alleged that this isn't the first time the site botched security and user privacy:

"When the boards changed some posters (me included) got moderation powers, which meant when someone abuse reported *we* got sent the emails to act on them including the email address of the person who complained. Plus we could view users IP addresses."

This is, obviously, the kind of journalism that's easy to loathe, given that much of it is dedicated to what my British editor Anna Brading refers to as a "side bar of shame" that features mostly women in bikinis either Celebrating Their Curves (translation: looking a bit fat) or Looking Great (they probably haven't eaten for a month).

But seriously, users shouldn't be punished for enjoying reading about, say, Cameron Diaz's odd facial expressions on a windy day.

For the sake of its hundreds of millions of users, let's just hope that Mail Online does encryption better than anybody in their right mind would assume after looking at its front page.

And let's hope it's willing to come clean about the extent of the data breach caused by the mixed-up profiles, and can convince those hundreds of millions of users that it knows what went wrong now so this sort of thing won't happen for a third time.

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8 Responses to Daily Mail readers wince as Mail Online slices and dices their data

  1. Huw3481 · 441 days ago

    Couldn't have happened to a nice bunch of people.

    For those outside the UK, it's not referred to as the "Daily Heil" or the "Daily Fail" for nothing.

    • Liv Bythesword · 441 days ago

      Sadly, many of the people who have been compromised are the ones that registered on the site purely to post comments that challenge the Daily Heil's vile editorial stance. Evil flourishes where good people do nothing, after all.

  2. Richard · 441 days ago

    Who's "Leonard" DiCaprio? :o)

    Given the Daily Fail's obsession with pictures of under-dressed women - not to mention the "creepy uncle" sidebar - I can only hope their site will be the first to fall under Dave's anti-fap filter. Especially as they've been extremely vocal in demanding that ISPs be forced to block this type of "degrading filth".

  3. James Nicolson · 441 days ago

    Ah the Wail sidebar with its intrusions into "celeb" childrens privacy and sexualisation of under age girls..........

    They would wail long and loud about these sex changes they are imposing on the mugs who use it if some else had done this

  4. rumplestiltskin · 441 days ago

    Whenever i see a link to a dailymail story i refuse to click on it no matter how important the subject maybe. I refuse to give them the traffic, no matter how small. It is appalling that this is the most popular online newspaper - humanity is doomed.

  5. Bob · 441 days ago

    "Daily Heil - Daily Fail - Their vile editorial stance - Creepy uncle sidebar"....who are you people, are you nuts? Where do you all live, La La Land? Are you all from some strange religious cult? It's just a tabloid daily, no better or worse than any the others and it does have some half decent news coverage occasionally. How Americans can sneer at this paper is a bit hypocritical when I see some of the crap they call journalism on the net. Yes, it actually has pictures of women in swimsuits and short dresses, celebrities and actors that love every bit of coverage they can get. If you don't like it then don't read it (bet you do), get a life!

    • Richard · 441 days ago

      Your assumption that the people "sneering" at the Daily Fail are all Americans is wrong. And any tabloid newspaper which calls for a blanket ban on porn in the name of protecting children, and then runs a website which makes distasteful comments about the appearance of underage girls, is a prime target for criticism.

      • Bob · 440 days ago

        You misread my comment. I didn't say 'all' Americans - that would not be fair or accurate, and yes the Daily Mail does deserve criticism, in fact, plenty. My point here is some of the comments and descriptions above are as stupid and vitriolic as the newspaper in question and are so over the top to be not considered credible.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.