A data leak from an unsecured Elasticsearch server has exposed the Dow Jones Watchlist database, which contains information on high-risk individuals and was left on a server sans password.
Watchlist is used by major global financial institutions to identify risk while researching individuals. It helps detect instances of crime, such as money laundering and illegal payments, by providing data on public figures. Watchlist has global coverage of senior political figures, national and international government sanction lists, people linked to or convicted of high-profile crime, and profile notes from Dow Jones citing federal agencies and law enforcement.
The leak was discovered by security researcher Bob Diachenko, who found a copy of the Watchlist on a public Elasticsearch cluster sized 4.4GB. The database exposed 2.4 million records and was publicly available to anyone who knew where to find it – for example, with an Internet of Things (IoT) search engine, he explained in a blog post.
It's important to note that data in the database, which has since been taken down, originated from public sources. Watchlist collects licensed and available news from publications around the world; a research team provides updates on listed individuals' names and relations.
While it is public data, Diachenko warned that exposing Watchlist "could be reckless" given the nature of information it contains and the people included in it.
This isn't the first time a misconfigured cloud server has put Dow Jones data at risk. In July 2017, a data leak exposed personal information of millions of customers. The culprit? An Amazon Web Services S3 bucket set to let any AWS Authenticated User download its data.
Read more details on the Watchlist leak here.
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