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Serious Flaw Found in Alibaba's English e-Commerce Site

Alibaba Group’s English language e-commerce site has fixed a serious flaw in its site that would have let an attacker alter product prices, delete goods or close a merchant’s shop on the site.

AliExpress is a growing platform from the online giant, which is known as the “Google of China.” It serves a variety of international markets, including the US, Russia and Brazil. AppSec Labs then uncovered a vulnerability that opened participating merchants up to account hijacking.  

AppSec founder Erez Metula told PC World that nefarious types “could change the price from a couple hundred dollars to one dollar, and so the bad guy could buy the product cheap.”

Metula didn’t give details as to the exact nature of the flaw, but said that it was a very common issue that any security researcher would probe for when checking out a site. “This is a regular vulnerability that’s on top of the list that every security tester would check for,” he said.

The Israeli security company contacted Alibaba about the issue, but was met with a lack of response, at first, despite multiple emails and phone calls. AppSec eventually mentioned the problem in the Israeli press last week, and Alibaba then reached out.

“I think maybe it had something to do with the language barrier,” Metula said. “We don’t understand Chinese, and maybe they didn’t understand our email, which was in English.”

For its part, “the security and privacy of our customers is our highest priority and we will do everything we can to continue to ensure a secure trading environment on our platforms,” Alibaba said in a statement to media, adding that the problem is fixed, while it continues to monitor the situation.

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