Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

763M Email Addresses Exposed in Latest Database Misconfiguration Episode

MongoDB once again used by database admin who opens unencrypted database to the whole world.

In February, a security researcher named Bob Diachenko found a MongoDB data instance containing four collections of data and a total of 150GB of data including approximately 763 million unique email addresses. The data instance was openly available and the data inside was stored in plain text. The personally identifiable information (PII)-rich instance is the latest MongoDB database to be hit in a breach totaling millions of records.

In the blog post announcing the discovery, Diachenko detailed the kind of data found in the records as well as the database's owner — Verifications.io. When informed of the data set's availability, the company took the site down very quickly; as of this writing, it is not yet back online.

While the data exposed in this incident is remarkable for its size, it is merely the latest in a significant series of data breaches and exposures involving MongoDB. In a January blog post at Krebs on Security, Brian Krebs noted that tens of thousands of MongoDB databases had been hit with ransomware. Those databases that used no authentication were particularly susceptible to the ransomware attacks.

Also in January, Diachenko discovered another open MongoDB database filled with personal information from job seekers. It is, it seems, quite easy to configure a MongoDB database in ways that open the door to thieves and attackers.

And that is really the issue. MongoDB can be configured in ways that are quite secure, but a novice developer who simply takes the default settings at every step in building a database will create a data set with no protection at all. The number of MongoDB instances makes the likelihood of that insecurity fairly high; a quick Shodan search shows 67,864 MongoDB installs around the world, with most — a bit over two-thirds — in the US. China is next when it comes to MongoDB use, with just less than half the number of instances found in the US.

MongoDB is popular in the cloud, as well. That same Shodan search shows that Amazon.com has 9,016 MongoDB instances, Digital Ocean hosts 4,966, Tencent cloud computing hosts 3,918, Microsoft Azure 2,849, and Google Cloud 1,931.

What is to be done about securing MongoDB databases? The most direct answer would be for the default settings to change, but MongoDB's status as an open source project makes that a process that is, at best, slow. The answer, instead, is in education for the admins and developers most likely to deploy MongoDB in their own instance. As Chris DeRamus, DivvyCloud's CTO, wrote to Dark Reading in a statement, "We live in a world where data is king — collecting, storing, and leveraging data is essential to running just about any type of business you can think of. All the more reason organizations must be diligent in ensuring data is protected with proper security controls."

MongoDB lists companies such as KPMG, Telefonica, and Eharmony as customers: It's obviously possible to configure and administer a MongoDB database in a way that is secure and in compliance with multiple regulations. Unfortunately, it is quick, easy, and cheap to launch a MongoDB instance that is a gift to criminals and a nightmare for its owners and their customers.

Related content:

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Cypher1
50%
50%
Cypher1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/12/2019 | 1:49:22 PM
Encrypt by default
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, it should come as no suprise that PII has incredible street value.  So why would any organization/company/agency even think about standing up a database with PII and not do the basics of encrypting the data?  And I'm not talking about Full Disk Encryption or using SEDs.  That protection scheme has sailed a long time ago as a viable data protection mechansim.  OS side attacks reign supreme at accessing this informaiton.  There are solutions available that will encrypt at the file / folder level, including mongoDB and wrap that encryption with strong access policies.   

Is cost the reason this is not done? Then I must ask "the cost of what?"  The solution and FTE's the implement such a security measure?  Or the cost to your business post breach?  Basic data protection mechansims at the data level must be implemented.   Having physical security access to your data room just isn't an answer.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15505
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
MobileIron Core and Connector before 10.3.0.4, 10.4.x before 10.4.0.4, 10.5.x before 10.5.1.1, 10.5.2.x before 10.5.2.1, and 10.6.x before 10.6.0.1, and Sentry before 9.7.3 and 9.8.x before 9.8.1, allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2020-15506
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
MobileIron Core and Connector before 10.3.0.4, 10.4.x before 10.4.0.4, 10.5.x before 10.5.1.1, 10.5.2.x before 10.5.2.1, and 10.6.x before 10.6.0.1 allow remote attackers to bypass authentication mechanisms via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2020-15507
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
MobileIron Core and Connector before 10.3.0.4, 10.4.x before 10.4.0.4, 10.5.x before 10.5.1.1, 10.5.2.x before 10.5.2.1, and 10.6.x before 10.6.0.1 allow remote attackers to read files on the system via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2020-15096
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
In Electron before versions 6.1.1, 7.2.4, 8.2.4, and 9.0.0-beta21, there is a context isolation bypass, meaning that code running in the main world context in the renderer can reach into the isolated Electron context and perform privileged actions. Apps using "contextIsolation" are affecte...
CVE-2020-4075
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
In Electron before versions 7.2.4, 8.2.4, and 9.0.0-beta21, arbitrary local file read is possible by defining unsafe window options on a child window opened via window.open. As a workaround, ensure you are calling `event.preventDefault()` on all new-window events where the `url` or `options` is not ...