July 2, 2018 at
A marketing firm called Exactis, which is Florida-based seems to be responsible for exposing information belonging to 340 million people. The leak is officially worse than the last year’s Equifax hack, which experienced a theft of data belonging to 143 million Americans.
Massive amount of Exactis’ leaked data found
As if the large hacking attacks were not bad enough, it would seem that the personal data of more than 340 million people belonging to Exactis has been exposed. According to Night Lion Security’s founder, Vinny Troia, the data was fully exposed on an unprotected server that allowed public access.
After discovering the data Troia notified both, Exactis, as well as the FBI. According to reports, the data was quickly secured by the company, but the reasons behind the leak, as well as how the company did not notice it earlier, still remain unclear.
It is currently unknown whether the data was found and accessed by cybercriminals. However, according to a tweet posted by Troia himself, the company is currently trying to find the answer to this question.
— Vinny Troia (@vinnytroia) June 29, 2018
The initial reports regarding the incident have confirmed that the exposed data includes a lot of personal information regarding the affected users. The information includes email and home addresses, phone numbers, as well as the leak victims’ personal characteristics. Things like interests, habits, gender, number, and even age of the victims’ children have all been exposed.
Additional details include things like whether or not the person in question smokes, whether they have pets, and if so, what type, and even their religion. Troia’s statement regarding the data claims that the database includes the details of basically anyone within the US. He added that it is still unknown where the data came from, but that it is one of the most detailed information collections that he has ever witnessed.
The discovery of data
Troia’s explanation for the discovery of this data states that he found it while using the search engine called Shodan. He was looking for an open-source search engine ElasticSearch’s database that was publicly accessible. It is interesting to note that Kromtech’s researchers managed to find two POS (Point-of-Sale) malware strains located on ElasticSearch’s servers. The strains were identified as JackPOS and AlinaPOS, and were found on more than 4,000 of these servers.
Another interesting detail is that this is the very same platform that a ransomware campaign called MongoDB was targeting at some point. The platform contains more than 15,000 servers that do not require authentication, nor do they have a password protection system.
If the information regarding the size of this leak is true, then that would put it among the largest information leaks in the history of the internet. Another question that many have started asking is why did Exactis have all this information in the first place.
The CTO of Bitglass, Anura Kahol, has stated that people should pay attention to the type and size of information that is taken from them and kept in such databases. The info belonging to 340 million people has almost 2 TB in size, and exposing it to the public eye is a large offense by this organization. What’s worse, this is not the first time that an incident like this has occurred, and not much is expected to change until companies like this start taking data security more seriously.