Vulnerabilities / Threats
6/21/2011
02:34 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Dropbox Files Left Unprotected, Open To All

A software bug rendered the account authentication mechanism non-functional for four hours, leaving customers fuming over the latest security lapse at the popular online file storage service.

Slideshow: Cloud Security Pros And Cons
Slideshow: Cloud Security Pros And Cons
(click image for larger view and for full slideshow)
Dropbox on Monday acknowledged that its vast store of files was left open to the world on Sunday for four hours as a result of a bug. During this period, any account could be accessed using any password.

The flaw, a software bug that rendered the service's authentication mechanism non-functional, only took five minutes to fix, once it was discovered.

Over 25 million customers store their files online with Dropbox, but only a few of those accounts showed activity during the four hour window of vulnerability. "A very small number of users (much less than 1 percent) logged in during that period, some of whom could have logged into an account without the correct password," said Dropbox co-founder and CTO Arash Ferdowsi, in a blog post. "As a precaution, we ended all logged in sessions."

Ferdowsi said that his company is investigating the incident and will notify account holders if any unusual activity is identified during the time when accounts were unprotected. An update to Ferdowsi's blog post indicates that these notifications have been sent out.

The issue was made public by security researcher Christopher Soghoian, who received a tip from a Dropbox user.

In May, Soghoian filed a complaint against Dropbox with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that the company's security claims have been deceptive. Previously, Dropbox had advertised that "All files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256) and are inaccessible without your account password." In April, the company altered its claims to make it clear that Dropbox, rather than the account holder, controls the file encryption keys, thereby enabling Dropbox to provide access to account holders' files when presented with lawful demands from authorities.

In March, the security of Dropbox's Android mobile client came under fire when security researcher Mike Cardwell revealed that the app was transmitting file metadata without SSL encryption.

The following month, Ferdowsi and Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO, explained that they had decided to favor performance over security because "enabling SSL for all metadata transfers made the app several times slower." They also acknowledged Cardwell's concerns and said they were working on a way to send metadata over SSL more efficiently in their mobile apps.

Dropbox's users have made their displeasure about Sunday's incident known in a series of comments appended to Ferdowsi's blog post. Many have said they plan to seek alternative cloud storage services.

As if on cue, Wuala, a competing cloud storage service operated by hard disk maker La Cie, published a blog post on Tuesday stating that Dropbox's problems wouldn't be an issue if files were encrypted by the client. "Encrypting your files before they are sent to the cloud makes Wuala inherently more secure than solutions that rely on server-side encryption," the company said.

It doesn't pay for small and midsize businesses to protect against security threats faced by only the largest companies. Here's how to focus your efforts on the right threats. Download our all-digital supplement. Download it now.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2808
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Bionic in Android before 4.1.1 incorrectly uses time and PID information during the generation of random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a rel...

CVE-2014-9713
Published: 2015-04-01
The default slapd configuration in the Debian openldap package 2.4.23-3 through 2.4.39-1.1 allows remote authenticated users to modify the user's permissions and other user attributes via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0259
Published: 2015-04-01
OpenStack Compute (Nova) before 2014.1.4, 2014.2.x before 2014.2.3, and kilo before kilo-3 does not validate the origin of websocket requests, which allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users for access to consoles via a crafted webpage.

CVE-2015-0800
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Mozilla Firefox (aka Fennec) before 37.0 on Android does not properly generate random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a related issue to CVE-2...

CVE-2015-0801
Published: 2015-04-01
Mozilla Firefox before 37.0, Firefox ESR 31.x before 31.6, and Thunderbird before 31.6 allow remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy and execute arbitrary JavaScript code with chrome privileges via vectors involving anchor navigation, a similar issue to CVE-2015-0818.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.