Security Experts:

User Data Accessed in Certification Management System Breach

A piece of malware discovered by computer-based testing solutions provider Pearson VUE on its Credential Manager system allowed attackers to access user information.

Pearson VUE is a Minneapolis, MN-based company that provides services to Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Oracle, F5 Networks and others. The Pearson Credential Manager (PCM) system is a certification lifecycle management tool used by some of the company’s customers.

In mid-November, Pearson took the PCM system offline, but it had not provided any information on the cause of the downtime. Over the weekend, the company informed customers that a piece of malware found on the system allowed an unauthorized third-party to gain access to their information.

The type of information accessed by the attackers is not the same for all users as each Pearson VUE customer has its own requirements. However, Pearson says there is no evidence that social security numbers (SSN) or full payment card information has been compromised.

Cisco is one of the Pearson VUE customers affected by the breach. The networking giant says hackers accessed information belonging to people who have taken exams and hold Cisco certifications, including their name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Cisco has shut down its Certifications Tracking System while the incident is being investigated.

F5 Networks has informed customers that the attackers accessed their name, postal address, phone number, email address, user IDs and, in some cases, date of birth and the last four digits of their credit card number.

According to Pearson VUE, the breach is isolated to the PCM system and there is no evidence that the company’s Testing System, website or other services are impacted.

While there is no indication that the attackers obtained financial information or SSNs, Pearson has decided to offer one year of free identity protection services via AllClear ID to potentially affected individuals.

“We are working with law enforcement and leading third-party forensic experts to assess and verify the scope of the issue and related facts. Customer privacy is a top priority for us and we take this responsibility very seriously. For the time being, the Pearson VUE PCM System remains offline. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” Pearson VUE stated.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing 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.