More than 14 Million Verizon Customers’ records exposed by a third party firm

Pierluigi Paganini July 12, 2017

Data belonging to 14 million U.S.-based Verizon customers have been exposed on an unprotected AWS Server by a partner of the telecommunications company.

The notorious security expert Chris Vickery, UpGuard director of cyber risk research. as made another disconcerting discovery, more than 14 million US customers’ personal details have been exposed after the third-party vendor NICE left the sensitive records open on an unprotected AWS Server.

NICE Systems is an Israeli firm that offers several solutions for intelligence agencies, including telephone voice recording, data security, and surveillance systems.

Exposed data also revealed that NICE Systems has a partnership with Paris-based telecommunication company “Orange,” it seems that the third-party firm collects customer details across Europe and Africa.

“The data repository, an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket administered by a NICE Systems engineer based at their Ra’anana, Israel headquarters, appears to have been created to log customer call data for unknown purposes;” reads a blog post published by Vickery. “Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, uses NICE Systems technology in its back-office and call center operations. In addition, French-language text files stored in the server show internal data from Paris-based telecommunications corporation Orange S.A.—another NICE Systems partner that services customers across Europe and Africa.”

verizon data breach-leak

The exposed data are sensitive information of millions of customers, including names, phone numbers, and account PINs (personal identification numbers).

The huge trove of data is related to the customers’ calls to the Verizon’s customer services in the past 6 months.

“Beyond the risks of exposed names, addresses, and account information being made accessible via the S3 bucket’s URL, the exposure of Verizon account PIN codes used to verify customers, listed alongside their associated phone numbers, is particularly concerning.” continues the expert, “Possession of these account PIN codes could allow scammers to successfully pose as customers in calls to Verizon, enabling them to gain access to accounts—an especially threatening prospect, given the increasing reliance upon mobile communications for purposes of two-factor authentication.”

It is still unclear why Verizon allowed NICE to collect call details, experts speculate the third party vendor was tasked to monitor the efficiency of its call-center operators for Verizon.

The incident demonstrates the risks of third-party vendors handling sensitive data. UpGuard pointed out the long interval of time between the initial notification to Verizon by UpGuard (June 13th) to the closure of the breach (on June 22nd)

“Finally, this exposure is a potent example of the risks of third-party vendors handling sensitive data,” reads the blog post from UpGuard.

“NICE Systems’ history of supplying technology for use in intrusive, state-sponsored surveillance is an unsettling indicator of the severity of this breach of privacy.”

Chris Vickery discovered many other clamorous cases of open database exposed on the Internet. In December 2015 the security expert discovered 191 million records belonging to US voters online, in April 2016 he also discovered a 132 GB MongoDB database open online and containing 93.4 million Mexican voter records.

In March 2016, Chris Vickery has discovered online the database of the Kinoptic iOS app, which was abandoned by developers, with details of over 198,000 users.

In January 2017, the expert discovered online an open Rsync server hosting the personal details for at least 200,000 IndyCar racing fans.

In March, he announced a 1.37 billion records data leak, in June 2017 Vickery revealed the DRA firm left 1.1 TB of data unsecured on an Amazon S3, 198 million US voter records exposed.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Verizon, data leak)

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