Vodafone has been caught taking liberties with customers' email accounts, and it seems at least some of the customers aren't happy about the practice.
The problem is with the password reminder feature on the “My account” section of the carrier's website. All you have to do is enter the phone number of the person you're interested in. If he's got an online account, Vodafone gladly gives up his email address. The Reg was able to test the feature and it worked as described.
“There is nothing to stop a determined spammer from entering thousands of numbers and getting a long list of email addresses,” Vodafone subscriber Terence Eden writes here. “Nothing to stop a fraudster from sending you an email to an address you only use with Vodafone. Nothing to stop you finding out that your boss’s email is IlikeBigButts@example.com.”
Several Reg readers who have left comments to this article have pointed out that the remind me feature also returns phone numbers and email addresses that correspond to user names. Indeed, a quick test showed it wasn't that hard to guess valid names. Vodafone is so generous, it seems, that it shares details of ex-subscribers as well, according to a comments left by people claiming to have ported phone numbers from Vodafone to a competing carrier.
The flaw is by no means as bad as a similar one found last month on Facebook, which spilled name and pic for all 500 million of its users. But it stems from the same kind of careless thinking.
We wouldn't be surprised to see it fixed in short order. ®