Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



UK National Property Register Site Exposed 28 Million Records: Researcher

Immobilise, the website of the United Kingdom’s National Property Register, was plagued until recently by a privacy flaw that could have been exploited to harvest information on millions of registered users, a researcher revealed on Monday.

Immobilise, the website of the United Kingdom’s National Property Register, was plagued until recently by a privacy flaw that could have been exploited to harvest information on millions of registered users, a researcher revealed on Monday.

Immobilise is said to be the world’s largest free register of possession ownership details. The website has been used by roughly 4.2 million businesses and consumers to register more than 28 million items, such as bikes, computers, phones and other valuables. Immobilise and its partner websites, the Police’s National Mobile Property Register (NMPR) and CheckMEND, are utilized to reduce crime and trace the owners of lost or stolen property.

Insecure by design

According to Paul Moore, a UK-based IT security consultant, the Immobilise website was affected by what he initially believed to be a direct object reference vulnerability. The bug exposed names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and details on registered items (serial numbers, IMEIs, unique marks, value), information that can be highly valuable for burglars and other malicious actors.

The researcher identified the issue after analyzing the URL presented to users when they download an ownership certificate from Immobilise in PDF format. The URL includes two parameters that represent the user ID and the certificate ID. Since the value of these parameters was sequential, an attacker could have easily accessed all accounts and all records simply by trying out all combinations, Moore said in a blog post.

“Sure, it’ll take some time and you’re bound to hit a rate limiter along the way, but even if it takes a day/week/month, it’s worth the wait,” the expert explained.

Moore told SecurityWeek that he hasn’t attempted to harvest information, but the rate limiting mechanism could exist because Immobilise uses CloudFlare services.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“If it detects any unusual activity, it’s entirely possible that CloudFlare could implement artificial rate limiting, which doesn’t actually limit connections as such, but intercepts requests and asks the user to prove they’re human etc.,” Moore said via email.

After further investigation, the researcher determined that the direct object reference was not an actual vulnerability, but a feature that allowed police and insurance companies to verify the authenticity of an ownership certificate based on its ID. Moore said the website was insecure by design.

Immobilise security issues fixed

According to Moore, the issue was discovered and reported more than a year ago to Recipero, the company that develops the Immobilise, CheckMEND and NMPR websites. At the time, Moore reported this and several other security holes in the National Property Register site, including stored cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site reference forgery (CSRF), and remote code execution flaws. The vulnerabilities were fixed quickly, but the direct object reference issue was addressed only after Moore informed the company on Saturday of his plans to make the existence of the privacy bug public.

The flaw has been addressed by Recipero by limiting access to the verification and certificate generation pages to authorized users.

Moore also discovered that the CheckMEND ( and NMPR ( websites were vulnerable to SSL 3.0 POODLE attacks. This problem has also been addressed.

“Perhaps ironically, some forces are now unable to access the site because Internet Explorer (as shipped with Windows XP) is only able to use insecure protocols (SSLv3). It’s now the responsibility of the affected forces to ensure their software meets current standards,” the researcher said.

When asked about why it took the company more than a year to address the issue, Recipero representatives said they’re currently investigating the validity of Moore’s claims.

“Recipero the provider of the property register confirms that a vulnerability in the website process has been identified. If exploited this could have allowed a third party to view details associated with an item registration,” Recipero told SecurityWeek in an emailed statement. ”The vulnerability targeted a feature intended for use by registrants when inviting their insurers to view details of an item. This vulnerability has been removed and a thorough review of records revealed no evidence of irregular usage.”

“In addition Recipero confirms that the ‘POODLE SSLv3’ vulnerability has also recently been addressed on all of Recipero’s servers,” the company added.

Moore says he hasn’t reported his findings to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) because the organization will likely not take any measures without proof that the vulnerability has been exploited. However, the expert hopes that the agency will investigate the issue if enough people file a report. The ICO could not immediately be reached for comment.

Moore has also pointed out that the Immobilise website displays the “Secured by Design” seal, an initiative of the UK Police. Researchers have demonstrated recently that many seal providers fail to properly check the websites they vouch for. Furthermore, these seals can actually make certain types of schemes, such as phishing, more efficient, experts said in their paper.

“Take trustmarks, padlocks and privacy policies with a pinch of salt. Even something which looks secure can be wide open to abuse,” Moore said.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join security experts as they discuss ZTNA’s untapped potential to both reduce cyber risk and empower the business.


Join Microsoft and Finite State for a webinar that will introduce a new strategy for securing the software supply chain.


Expert Insights

Related Content


Less than a week after announcing that it would suspended service indefinitely due to a conflict with an (at the time) unnamed security researcher...

Data Breaches

OpenAI has confirmed a ChatGPT data breach on the same day a security firm reported seeing the use of a component affected by an...

Risk Management

The supply chain threat is directly linked to attack surface management, but the supply chain must be known and understood before it can be...

IoT Security

A group of seven security researchers have discovered numerous vulnerabilities in vehicles from 16 car makers, including bugs that allowed them to control car...


The latest Chrome update brings patches for eight vulnerabilities, including seven reported by external researchers.


Patch Tuesday: Microsoft warns vulnerability (CVE-2023-23397) could lead to exploitation before an email is viewed in the Preview Pane.


A researcher at IOActive discovered that home security systems from SimpliSafe are plagued by a vulnerability that allows tech savvy burglars to remotely disable...


Patch Tuesday: Microsoft calls attention to a series of zero-day remote code execution attacks hitting its Office productivity suite.