Home Security Facebook data may have leaked again through LocalBlox

A cloud storage repository belonging to LocalBlox, a company that creates personal profiles using information scraped from publicly accessible sources, has been found unsecured on the Web, potentially exposing the details of 48 million people.

The data includes names, physical addresses, dates of birth, scraped data from LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter handles, and more, according to the security company UpGuard whose director of Cyber Risk Research, Chris Vickery, discovered the unsecured Amazon Web Services S3 bucket on 18 February.

News of this cache of exposed data comes in the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal where the company gained access to the data of some 87 million Facebook users. The row from that is yet to die down.

In a blog post, UpGuard said the co-founder of LocalBlox, Ashfaq Rahman, had confirmed that the data belonged to it. LocalBlox styles itself as the "World's Most Comprehensive Cross Device Identity Graph on Businesses, Consumers and Geo Audiences".

The exposed data combines names and addresses with details of an individual's Internet usage such as LinkedIn histories and Twitter feeds, UpGuard said.

"This combination begins to build a three-dimensional picture of every individual affected — who they are, what they talk about, what they like, even what they do for a living — in essence a blueprint from which to create targeted persuasive content, like advertising or political campaigning," UpGuard said.

"If the legitimate uses of the data aren’t enough to give pause, the illegitimate uses range from traditional identity theft, to fraud, to ammunition for social engineering scams such as phishing."

The data also included scraped LinkedIn job histories, public Facebook data, and individuals’ Twitter handles. The real estate site Zillow was also used in the process with information blended from the service's listings into the larger data pool.

The database appeared to work by tracking an IP address, matching collected data to that IP address when able, and thus providing a clearer image of the behaviour and background of the user at that IP address, UpGuard said.

Commenting on the case, Varun Bahdwar, chief executive and co-founder of cloud security firm Redlock, said: “It borders on the ridiculous that a company that aggregates and sells consumer information based on scraping public data sources would apparently be negligent insofar as protecting their own cloud resources goes,

“Enterprises need to be proactive in ensuring both the compliance and security of their cloud assets. While resource misconfiguration is not uncommon, the unintended consequences in terms of data exposure can be massive. This is a glaring example.”

In the past, UpGuard has found data from an insurance firm exposed in an unsecured NAS device. It has also found misconfigured Amazon Web Services S3 buckets leaking data from Kansas holding company Blue Chair, Paris-based brand marketing company Octoly, California data analytics firm Alteryx, credit repair service National Credit Federation, the NSA, the Pentagon, global corporate consulting and management firm Accenture, publisher Dow Jones, a Chicago voter database, a North Carolina security firm, and a contractor for the US National Republican Committee.

But late in February, UpGuard had to rework a report on what it claimed was a cloud-based data storage repository, that was used by business analytics software provider Birst and left unsecured.

It said as a result, data about financial services firm Capital One had been exposed.

But Capital One contested these claims, as did Birst. UpGuard then took down its original post, while it discussed the matter with Capital One. An updated version of its post was issued in March.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.


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