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Nearly 15 Million People Impacted by ElasticSearch Misconfiguration

The unsecured servers exposed 359,019,902 records, which equals nearly 579.4 GB of data.

 

Cybersecurity researchers at Website Planet have unearthed two misconfigured ElasticSearch servers owned by an anonymous organization using open-source data analytics software developed by SnowPlow Analytics, a London-based software vendor. 

The software allows entities to gather and examine information about their websites’ users apparently without their knowledge. It is worth noting that a web analytics tool can collect versatile data metrics. The collected information is then used for designing an extensive, detailed profile for site visitors.

According to researchers, both servers were unencrypted and required no password authorization. The unsecured servers exposed 359,019,902 records, nearly 579.4 GB of data. The exposed servers contained detailed logs of website user traffic — information that belongs to users of various websites collecting data with the open-source technology, including the following. 

• Referrer page 
• Timestamp IP 
• Geolocation data 
• Web page visited 
• User-agent data of website visitors 

The servers contained user information collected over two months in 2021. The first server contained data from September 2021 with 242,728,328 records or 389.7 GB of data gathered between September 2nd, 2021, and October 1st, 2021. 

The second server contained December 2021 data featuring 116,291,574 records or 189.7 GB of data collected between December 1st, 2021, and December 27th, 2021. Nearly 4 to 100 records of users appear on the two servers, and given that there are multiple logs for each user, this exposure might affect at least 15 million people, the researchers added. 

It is worth noting that the compromised data could have been accessed by anyone with eyes, and included geolocation and IP addresses. Additionally, the servers were live and actively updating new information at the time when they were discovered. However, neither ElasticSearch nor SnowPlow Analytics is responsible for this exposure because the company that owns the misconfigured servers is at fault. 

The data leak might have a far-reaching impact because users worldwide are affected by this exposure. However, it is unclear whether the servers were accessed by a third party with malicious intent or not. Fortunately, both exposed servers were secured after Website Planet sent alerts to concerned authorities.

To secure the data, users can employ Virtual Private Network (VPN) which hides the online activity and IP address, making the user anonymous to on-site tracking and cookies. People can also use the Tor browser to access the internet anonymously and maintain their data privacy.
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