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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

7/24/2017
03:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Weather.com, Fusion Expose Data Via Google Groups Config Error

Companies that leaked data accidentally chose the sharing setting "public on the Internet," which enabled anyone on the Web to access all information contained in the messages

Major companies have publicly exposed messages containing sensitive information due to a user-controlled configuration error in Google Groups.

Researchers at RedLock Cloud Security Intelligence (CSI) discovered Google Groups belonging to hundreds of companies inadvertently exposed personally identifiable information (PII) including customer names, passwords, email and home addresses, salary compensation details, and sales pipeline data. Internal messages also exposed business strategies, which could create competitive risk if in the wrong hands, explains RedLock cofounder and CEO Varun Badhwar.

The Weather Company, the IBM-owned operator of weather.com and intellicast.com, is among the companies affected. Fusion Media Group, parent company of Gizmodo, The Onion, Jezebel, Lifehacker, and other properties made the same mistake.

"The RedLock CSI team only looked for a sample of [Google Groups] cases and found dozens," says Badhwar of this research. "Extending that, there are likely hundreds of companies affected by this misconfiguration."

Google Groups is a G Suite chat application organizations use to create and participate in email-based group chats and online forums. During the configuration process, admins can set the sharing option for "Outside this domain - access to groups" to make messages public or private.

The companies that leaked data accidentally chose the sharing setting "public on the Internet," which enabled anyone on the Web to access all information contained in their messages. RedLock advises all companies using Google Groups to ensure "private" is the sharing setting for "Outside this domain-access to groups."

RedLock's CSI team routinely checks various cloud infrastructure tools for threat vectors, and monitors publicly available data to detect misconfigurations that could cause security incidents, explains Badhwar. To date, the team has found more than 4.8 million exposed records resulting from cloud misconfiguration problems.

This is the latest example of organizations mistakenly exposing data by failing to properly configure their public cloud settings.

Shortly before RedLock announced its findings, a data leak at Dow Jones & Co. exposed millions of customers' personal information due to a configuration error in an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket. The repository had its settings configured to let any AWS authenticated user access its data, making it available to any of the one million users with a free AWS account.

Dow Jones confirmed 2.2 million people were exposed; however, Upguard, which discovered the leak, places that number around four million based on the bucket's size and composition. While Dow Jones has "no reason to believe" any of the data was stolen, its incident is one of many signs that companies are struggling to securely adopt cloud services.

Earlier this year, Upguard discovered Deep Root Analytics accidentally leaked millions of voter records from an unsecured public storage account. Exposed data included phone numbers, birthdates, home and mailing addresses, party affiliation, and self-reported racial background.

The analytics firm, working on behalf of the Republican National Committee, had set its S3 storage bucket files to public instead of private. Most records had permissions to be downloaded and files could be accessed without a password.

"The public cloud can be highly secure when configured correctly, but what we're seeing is there's an overarching learning curve when it comes to how organizations should properly secure cloud applications and public cloud infrastructure," says Badhwar.

Unfortunately, many companies are struggling with basic security. Badhwar says the RedLock CSI team found 40% of organizations have exposed a public cloud resource by incorrectly configuring sharing settings, leading to the recent series of major leaks.

"Simple misconfiguration errors -- whether in SaaS applications or cloud infrastructure -- can have potentially devastating effects," he adds, citing instances of similar mistakes at WWE and Booz Allen Hamilton.

It's important for businesses to teach employees about security practices and tools they can use to automate the process of securing applications, workloads, and systems. Until this education happens, he anticipates we will continue to see these problems.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
_geoff_p_
50%
50%
_geoff_p_,
User Rank: Author
7/25/2017 | 12:39:54 PM
User Error and Permissions Confusion Keeps Being a Problem
Great article! Between accidental oversharing from simple user errors (setting sharing to 'public') and not correctly setting permissions due to potentially confusing nameing schemes ('Any Authenticated AWS User' in Amazon S3 buckets being the latest trend) the cloud is proving that user education continues to be an incredibly important topic. Now instead of clicking a link in a phishing email and accidentally exposing a single system to compromise misconfigured clouds are exposing LARGE quantities of data without the need for external action from potential adversaries.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
Browsers to Enforce Shorter Certificate Life Spans: What Businesses Should Know
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-17366
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
An issue was discovered in NLnet Labs Routinator 0.1.0 through 0.7.1. It allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions or to cause a denial of service on dependent routing systems by strategically withholding RPKI Route Origin Authorisation ".roa" files or X509 Certificate...
CVE-2020-9036
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Jeedom through 4.0.38 allows XSS.
CVE-2020-15127
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Contour ( Ingress controller for Kubernetes) before version 1.7.0, a bad actor can shut down all instances of Envoy, essentially killing the entire ingress data plane. GET requests to /shutdown on port 8090 of the Envoy pod initiate Envoy's shutdown procedure. The shutdown procedure includes flip...
CVE-2020-15132
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Sulu before versions 1.6.35, 2.0.10, and 2.1.1, when the "Forget password" feature on the login screen is used, Sulu asks the user for a username or email address. If the given string is not found, a response with a `400` error code is returned, along with a error message saying that th...
CVE-2020-7298
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Unexpected behavior violation in McAfee Total Protection (MTP) prior to 16.0.R26 allows local users to turn off real time scanning via a specially crafted object making a specific function call.