Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Leaked Database Exposed Individual Records on 340 Million Americans

Hacking Exactis exposed 340 million personal records to the internet
Orlando Vargas | 01 July, 2018, 14:55

Troia, who owns a New York-based security firm, discovered the breach of almost 340 million individual records stored on a publicly accessible server this month.

According to a Wired report, around two terabytes of data was exposed, and it appeared to include personal information on hundreds of millions of American adults, as well as millions of businesses.

"Aside from the sheer breadth of the Exactis leak, it may be even more remarkable for its depth: Each record contains entries that go far beyond contact information and public records to include more than 400 variables on a vast range of specific characteristics: whether the person smokes, their religion, whether they have dogs or cats, and interests as varied as scuba diving and plus-size apparel".

A marketing and data aggregation firm that you likely never heard of apparently knows your email address, home address, phone number, habits, hobbies, and the ages and genders of your children. Credit card information and Social Security numbers don't appear to have been leaked.

"This case concerns one of the biggest and most damaging data breach cases, exceeding Equifax and other massive data breaches in both scale and information disseminated", the complaint reads. He found the database by searching for ElasticSearch servers using the search tool Shodan.

That's when he said he found Exactis' database, which he said had no firewall. Exactis is a data company based in Palm Beach, Florida and, according to MarketWatch, already has a lawsuit against them filed by Morgan & Morgan as a result of the breach.

Once he stumbled across the data dump and examined its contents, he contacted both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Exactis, the latter of which made the data inaccessible shortly after Troia's notification.

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Exactis is a firm whose specialization involves helping businesses reach potential clients through phone numbers and email or postal addresses.

There's no way to know if anyone with malicious intent has accessed the database, but Troia says it would be easy for a hacker to do. This latest news means a company most people haven't even heard of has put the private information of a significant portion of the US population at risk.

The data trove was discovered by a security researcher named Vinny Troia, according to Wired.

"If an attacker combined this intel with data from the 2015 OPM breach, they could run human intelligencetype special operations attacks against cleared personnel".

On its website, Exactis said it maintained 3.5 billion consumer, business and digital records, including "demographic, geographic, firmographic, lifestyle, interests, CPG, automotive, and behavioral data".

Troia's discovery adds to the ongoing problem of organizations that deploy technology - from Mongo DB instances to Amazon S3 storage buckets - but misconfigure them, thus leaving them and the data they store exposed to the internet, where anyone might access them. Approximately, about 230 million records are of USA adults while the remaining 110 million are of US business contacts.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Wired that the information leaked from Exactis could be used to impersonate others.

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