Home Security Back-up specialist Veeam exposes 445m customer email addresses to public
Back-up specialist Veeam exposes 445m customer email addresses to public Pixabay Featured

Back-up and disaster recovery company Veeam has left a database of its own customers' data, amounting to more than 200GB and including details of more than 445 million customers, exposed on an Amazon-hosted IP, a security researcher says.

Bob Diachenko said in a post that he had come across the data on 5 September but, despite trying to responsibly disclose the information, had not had much success in doing so.

Veeam describes itself as "the global leader in intelligent data management" and as a company that can “anticipate need and meet demand, and move securely across multi-cloud infrastructures". It claims to have 307,000 customers, including most of the Fortune 500, according to its website.

Diachenko, who formerly worked with security outfit Kromtech, said the server in question was left open to the public until 9 September. Thereafter, he said, "it was quietly secured after several notification attempts made both by me and Zack Whittaker of TechCrunch".

He said the data within the exposed database included material that appeared to be used by the Veeam marketing team to work with their customers, using the Marketo solution. "Marketo is a software company focused on account-based marketing, including email, mobile, social, digital ads, Web management, and analytics," he added.

veaam data sample

A sample of the data that Diachenko found, with appropriate redactions.

Diachenko said collections labelled "marketo", "marketo_new" and "marketo_collect" had a total of more than 445 million records with "customers' first and last names, email addresses, email recipient type (end-customer or partner), country, attributes values (which in some cases have IP addresses, referrer URL address, user agent etc), and customer organisation size (Enterprise (>5000), Commercial (500-5000), SMB (<500), ENT - Enterprise)".

Material within the database had creation dates ranging over the years 2013 to 2017.

Diachenko wrote: "Based on the collection names and analysis of data in the database, my first guess was that the database originated from a Marketo server, so I also sent security notifications to their email addresses.

"However, upon further analysis I came to the conclusion that the data was part of the Veeam marketing server infrastructure, rather than Marketo. Also, the database has been quietly secured shortly after [a] security notification was sent to the Veeam PR team. I am still waiting for feedback/statement to confirm the above findings."

He said that even if the data was not overly sensitive, the public availability of such a large, structured and targeted dataset online could become a real treasure chest for spammers and phishers.

"It is also lucky that the database was not hit by a new wave of ransomware attacks which have been specifically targeting MongoDBs (with much more extortion amount demand than it was last year)," he said.

"As I have already reported, issues with MongoDB have been known since at least March 2013 and have been widely reported since.The company has updated its software with secure defaults and has released security guidelines. It's been five years now and these unsecured databases are still widely available on the Internet."

Commenting on the incident, data protection and information management software company Commvault’s principal architect, Chris Gondek, said: "The Veeam incident is unfortunate for a self-described intelligent data management company, but the reality is it could happen to any organisation.

"Rather than spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about a lack of capability, this incident should serve as a reminder to all organisations that data is an asset and a catalyst to many initiatives — and it must be protected.

"All organisations must be prepared for data loss scenarios for when, not if, it happens. Perimeter security is a prevention method, at best. Organisations need a proper data protection plan, with particular focus around recovery readiness and disaster recovery.

"It’s also time organisations hold business vendors that deal in data to the same standards as you would financial institutions. Take data found in the cloud: there is a perception that the cloud is more secure; that they’re the specialists and your data is not at risk. At the end of the day, your organisation is responsible for your data and information, irrespective of where you place it.

"We live in a digital economy that is extremely susceptible to data loss and data breaches. Data protection is an age-old problem that comes and goes from executive agendas — but it needs stay top of mind, always.”

Contacted for comment, Heidi Kroft, Veeam's director of corporate communications, said: "It has been brought to our attention that one of our marketing databases, leaving a number of non-sensitive records (i.e. prospect email addresses), was possibly visible to third parties for a short period of time.

"We have now ensured that all Veeam databases are secure. Veeam takes data privacy and security very seriously, and a full investigation is currently underway."


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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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