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Kickstarter API security bug exposed 77,000 projects

Kickstarter security

Crowdfunding powerhouse Kickstarter suffered its first high-profile security screw-up on Friday, which resulted in the early exposure of approximately 77,000 projects, the company announced on Sunday after being contacted by the Wall Street Journal.
No credit card data, or other highly sensitive information, was revealed through the security hole, the company said.

“The bug was introduced when we launched the API in conjunction with our new homepage on April 24, and was live until it was discovered and fixed on Friday, May 11, at 1:42pm,” wrote Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter, on the company blog. “The bug made accessible the project description, goal, duration, rewards, video, image, location, category, and user name for unlaunched projects. No account or financial data was made accessible.”

According to Strickler, only 48 projects were exposed beyond what the Wall Street Journal accessed for its report.

While the security hole may have not exposed financial data, it does serve as a stark reminder the vulnerabilities of handing over credit card information to a website.

Launched in 2008, Kickstarter has quickly become the go-to place for artists, game-makers, and technology entrepreneurs to gain funding and exposure for their embryonic ideas. Kickstarter, which takes a 5 percent cut of all funds pledged to successful projects, raise nearly $100 million for 27,000 projects last year, and has become something of a household name in the past few months. Kickstarter recently announced that it has raised a total of $200 million over the past three years.

One project, the Pebble smartwatch, which connects via Bluetooth with Android and iPhone smartphones, recently became the highest-funded project in Kickstarter history, having raised about $10.2 million — more than 100 times its original goal of $100,000 — with four days left to go, at the time of this writing. The Pebble watch itself is completely sold out.

Those who pledge money to Kicstarter projects are not investors in the same way venture capitalists or stock holders are investors. Instead, money pledged on to a Kickstarter project is most often a kind of pre-order for the product itself. If you pledged a certain minimum amount toward the Pebble watch, for example, then you are in line to receive an early edition of the watch, plus other perks, like personalized messages from the co-founders, or other exclusive benefits. The money pledged is usually used to get the business off the ground, such as paying for production costs. To pledge on Kickstarter is to be the earliest of early adopters; you are buying something that often times doesn’t even yet exist.

Whether or not last week’s security breach affects Kickstarter’s business is yet to be seen; however, we would wager that not many will be put off by a security lapse that exposed nothing more than some untested projects.

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