Ministry of Education Website Uses Plain Text CAPTCHA!

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It is unbelievable, but the Malaysia Ministry of Education’s website uses plain text CAPTCHA that can be copied and pasted!

Take a look at this incredulous security lapse, and find out why it could put your data at risk!

 

Ministry of Education Website Uses Plain Text CAPTCHA!

The recent threat by Anonymous Malaysia to attack government websites over their lack of security appears to be well-justified.

Qusyaire Ezwan spotted an incredulous security lapse in the official Malaysia Ministry of Education website – plain text CAPTCHA!

On top of that, the code can actually be copied and pasted!

Ministry of Education Website Uses Plain Text CAPTCHA!

 

Ministry of Education Plain Text CAPTCHA : A Serious Cybersecurity Risk!

The CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) test is something most of us are familiar with.

It is a test that helps to identify real humans, and weed out bots, before they are allowed to access a service. This prevents bot fraud and hacking attempts.

Robot CAPTCHA

In the Ministry of Education website, the plain text CAPTCHA was used to “secure” the retrieval of forgotten passwords for their Student Management Module.

A real CAPTCHA uses distorted images to prevent a bot from “reading” the numbers or letters, thereby ensuring that only a real human being would be able to key in the correct code.

As this screenshot shows, the CAPTCHA used in the Ministry of Education website just uses random sequences of letters and numbers in PLAIN TEXT!

Ministry of Education Website Uses Plain Text CAPTCHA!

This means a bot can easily copy and paste the plain text code, and bypass the CAPTCHA test.

Frankly, this doesn’t even qualify as a CAPTCHA test, because it cannot differentiate between humans and bots.

Now, the password is still sent to the registered email accounts, not to the hackers or bots. So your data is not in immediate danger.

However, this is still a SERIOUS cybersecurity risk, because a hacker can pair this design flaw with compromised email accounts.

It would allow their bots to easily and quickly make password retrieval requests for compromised email accounts, and then retrieve your Ministry of Education password.

Having access to the Student Management Module would give hackers access to a ton of information on children and their parents :

  • child : name, date of birth, telephone number, home address
  • school : location, class name, teacher’s name,
  • parent : name, occupation, workplace address, contact number, declared salary

On top of that, many people reuse their passwords, so hackers will use the password retrieved from the Ministry of Education website on other websites and online services you may use.

If you use the same password for your banking account, for example, that would expose your banking account to the hacker.

That is why CAPTCHA is important. It doesn’t prevent hacking attempts, but it greatly slows it down by blocking bots from making mass requests.

The use of plain text CAPTCHA in an official government website is a fiasco. A basic cybersecurity checklist would have prevented software vendors from using plain text CAPTCHA in government websites.

The Malaysian government needs to take the security of official websites seriously. This is a disgrace.

 

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