Support The Moscow Times!

Moscow Metro WiFi Exposed Millions of Users’ Personal Data

Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

A security flaw had exposed the personal data of at least 12 million users of Moscow’s citywide wireless Internet network, allowing potential hackers to track movements in the public transportation system for almost a year. 

In a blog post last month, software engineer Vladimir Serov said he had uncovered the vulnerability on the metro’s publicly available WiFi authorization page. Maxima Telecom, the company that provides WiFi services in the Moscow metro, reportedly admitted that the security flaw had existed, but said in a statement that it had since removed the vulnerability by encrypting users' profile data, while rejecting media reports that there had been a massive data leakage.

The Moscow WiFi network exposed personal data “including phone numbers, gender, approximate age, marital status, wealth, your home and work stations,” the website quoted Serov as saying Monday. 

The insecurity allowed potential hackers to trace passengers' movements inside the metro, including their exact train carriage, Serov said.

According to Maxima Telecom, 12 million users were signed up to Moscow’s WiFi network as of late 2016, the latest year that figures were released. The same operator began providing WiFi access in the St Petersburg metro last year.

The Village traced the public network’s vulnerability back to at least May 17, 2017. 

Maxima Telecom wrote that it had asked Smirnov to take down his blog post, which he declined to do and has since updated to confirm that the vulnerability has been “supposedly” removed. 

“Why should I remain silent about my personal data being treated like this?” The Village cited the software engineer as saying.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.