By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
November 7, 2005
Papa John's has beefed up security for its Web-based e-mail system
after the pizza chain learned that internal e-mail and customer data
had been exposed.
The leak at the Louisville, Ky.-based pizza chain made internal
corporate e-mail and thousands of customer comments available to
anyone with a Web browser. The customer comments were submitted
between Sept. 29 and Nov. 7 and included names, addresses, phone
numbers and e-mail addresses of customers.
"It looks like there is no password protection on Papa John's internal
Web e-mail system," said Richard Smith, an Internet privacy expert who
reviewed the issue at the request of CNET News.com. "This sort of Web
site privacy leak happens more than it should."
Papa John's  on Monday added password protection to its Web-based
e-mail system and the online customer suggestion database, after it
was notified of the leak by CNET News.com. The company's action came
hours after information exposing the system's insecurity was published
to the popular Full Disclosure security mailing list .
"Today we learned that customer feedback over the last five
weeks...could be viewed by a user who would have to enter a very
specific, unpublished URL," said Chris Sternberg, a Papa John's
"We're not certain that anybody has accessed this information,"
Sternberg said. "We don't think the ability to access this information
breached our disclosure policy, but we don't want it accessed by
anyone outside the Papa John's system, so we have taken steps to fix
The consumer information that was disclosed did not include credit
card numbers or other sensitive data, which limits the risk of fraud,
said James Van Dyke, principal analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research
in Pleasanton, Calif.
"There is no reason to expect that this will lead to identity fraud,
as the exposed information is not of the type used by financial
companies to grant access to capital," he said. "In the most extreme
case, a fraudster could call one of the listed individuals and pretend
to be a Papa John's employee, asking for a credit card number or bank
While the Web-based system now requires a password, some of the
information is still available in the cache of Google's search engine.
For example, one internal Papa John's e-mail discusses the company's
challenges in re-establishing itself in Mexico and Puerto Rico after
the departure of a key employee.
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