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Best practices for sending secure information over web.

Posted on 2013-11-15
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Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Hi all,

Our organization has recently undergone a conversion to using an outside provider for much of our functionality, and it's requiring our customers to set up new user profiles on the outside provider's site.  To help them with that, we'd like to set up a page that would allow the customer to look up their new outside provider account number based on the data we have in our system, including address info, name, and SSN (Aye, there's the rub).  

I'm obviously concerned about sending SSN information from outside our secure login (where this page, unfortunately, needs to be located).  What are best practices for making sure this data is sent securely?  

We're using VB.NET 4.0 and Visual Studio Premiuim 2012 for our work.  

I'd appreciate any input you might have - security work is not my strong suit.  Thanks!

Jamie
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Question by:jfellrath
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Expert Comment

by:mankowitz
ID: 39651132
couple of options

1. HTTPS is the best and easiest, if you can't do that,
2. Use some sort of separate factor approach. For example if you have their cell phone, let them log in to your site and send them a text with the new login information. If you have their email, send it that way.
3. If you are concerned about them SENDING their SSN to the unprotected site, just ask for the first or last 4 digits. That gives a hacker only 1 in 10000 chance of guessing correctly, and you can lock down the site if they try more than 3 times.
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by:jfellrath
ID: 39651372
We're already using HTTPS - that should be enough?  

And the user in question will not have a login on the current site any longer, unfortunately.
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mankowitz earned 500 total points
ID: 39651427
HTTPS should be enough. Very hard to crack unless you have some access to the database or the user's computer. I wouldn't worry about sending SSN over HTTPS. That's how banks and hospitals protect privacy.
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Author Closing Comment

by:jfellrath
ID: 39651874
Thanks so much! I'd forgotten we were using secure HTTP and got a little perturbed when I heard we wanted to do what we were doing.
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