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NewsBlur Restores Service After Hacker Wipes Database

Personal news reader NewsBlur was down for several hours last week after a hacker managed to wipe the service’s database.

The hacker was able to gain access to the database while the RSS reader was being transitioned to Docker, which circumvented some firewall rules and opened the NewsBlur MongoDB database to the public.

Within roughly three hours, NewsBlur founder Samuel Clay said, the hacker was able to copy the database and delete the original.

“When I switched to a new MongoDB server, a hacker deleted all of NewsBlur’s mongo data and is now holding NewsBlur’s data hostage. I’m dipping into a backup from a few hours ago and will keep you all updated,” he noted in a message on the NewsBlur main page.

Right before transitioning to Docker, Clay shut down the original primary MongoDB cluster, which remained untouched during the attack. Clay immediately started taking a snapshot of this primary to restore the service, and was able to bring all back online approximately ten hours later.

Clay blames the unauthorized access to the database to a change that Docker made in the UFW firewall.

“When I containerized MongoDB, Docker helpfully inserted an allow rule into iptables, opening up MongoDB to the world. So while my firewall was ‘active’, […] MongoDB was open to the world,” Clay explains.

The issue is not new. In fact, it has been around for years, requiring admins to modify the UFW configuration file to add specific rules for Docker.

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