Security Experts:

Leaky Databases Expose 25 Million Accounts: Researcher

A researcher claims to have identified leaky databases that exposed user data associated with roughly 25 million online accounts.

For the past two weeks, security researcher Chris Vickery has been analyzing databases and discovered that the information stored in many of them has been publicly accessible. The expert says he hasn’t used any exploits or vulnerabilities to obtain the data.

“No exploits or vulnerabilities involved. They published it to the open web with no attempt at protection,” Vickery said in a post on Reddit.

The researcher says he has downloaded information associated with more than 13 million accounts related to the controversial OS X security and optimization tool MacKeeper and its developer, Kromtech Alliance.

Kromtech told SecurityWeek that it addressed the issue within hours after being notified by the researcher. The company has pointed out that financial information was not at risk as payments are processed by a third party.

“Kromtech is aware of a potential vulnerability in access to our data storage system and we are grateful to the security researcher Chris Vickery who identified this issue without disclosing any technical details for public use. We fixed this error within hours of the discovery,” Kromtech said in an emailed statement. “Analysis of our data storage system shows only one individual gained access performed by the security researcher himself. We have been in communication with Chris and he has not shared or used the data inappropriately.”

“The privacy and security of our clients’ information remains our top priority and from the moment we were aware of the access, we immediately took several proactive steps to identify and correct the issue,” the company added. “These steps include launching a comprehensive internal review to identify the scope of the event and additional necessary security measures.”

The researcher said he identified several misconfigured Kromtech databases, all of which have now been secured.

Kromtech is not the only company whose databases leaked user information. Vickery told that the list of firms exposing user data includes the social network Vixlet (377,000 exposed accounts), video chat app OkHello (2.6 million affected accounts), online public school network California Virtual Academies (74,000 students and employees affected), online gaming site Slingo (2.5 million affected users), fitness app iFit (576,000 users affected), and HIV dating app Hzone (5,000 users affected).

The exposed information includes names, usernames, email addresses, postal addresses, password hashes (many of which are easy to crack), computer names, and IP addresses. Vickery, who has downloaded the exposed information, says he hasn’t found any payment card details.

“I have no malicious intentions for the data,” Vickery explained. “Right now, the only purpose of me having it is to prove that it was/is available. The company can't deny the incident if I have the data.”

Misconfigured databases are a serious problem. In August, researchers reported finding roughly 1.1 petabytes of data exposed online due to misconfigured Redis, MongoDB, Memcached and Elasticsearch databases.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.