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
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-4467
Published: 2015-01-30
WebKit, as used in Apple iOS before 8.1.3, does not properly determine scrollbar boundaries during the rendering of FRAME elements, which allows remote attackers to spoof the UI via a crafted web site.

CVE-2014-4476
Published: 2015-01-30
WebKit, as used in Apple iOS before 8.1.3; Apple Safari before 6.2.3, 7.x before 7.1.3, and 8.x before 8.0.3; and Apple TV before 7.0.3, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) via a crafted web site, a different vulner...

CVE-2014-4477
Published: 2015-01-30
WebKit, as used in Apple iOS before 8.1.3; Apple Safari before 6.2.3, 7.x before 7.1.3, and 8.x before 8.0.3; and Apple TV before 7.0.3, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) via a crafted web site, a different vulner...

CVE-2014-4479
Published: 2015-01-30
WebKit, as used in Apple iOS before 8.1.3; Apple Safari before 6.2.3, 7.x before 7.1.3, and 8.x before 8.0.3; and Apple TV before 7.0.3, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) via a crafted web site, a different vulner...

CVE-2014-4480
Published: 2015-01-30
Directory traversal vulnerability in afc in AppleFileConduit in Apple iOS before 8.1.3 and Apple TV before 7.0.3 allows attackers to access unintended filesystem locations by creating a symlink.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.