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article imageMajor databreach exposes data on most of Ecuador's citizens Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 17, 2019 in Technology
An Elasticsearch server has leaked personal data on almost all of Ecuador's citizens, including their family trees, and children, plus some financial records and car registration information. Anurag Kahol of Bitglass assesses the situation.
According to ZDNet, the leaky server represents one of the biggest data breaches affecting a country and it is certainly the most significant in Ecuador's history (6.7 million records from a population of 16.6 million citizens).
The database, an Elasticsearch server, was discovered two weeks ago by vpnMentor security researchers. The Elasticsearch server contained some 18 GB of data and 20.8 million user records (the high figure reflecting duplicate records or older entries relating to deceased persons). The leaked records also included an entry for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The exposed data included details like names, home addresses, emails, financial and work information, and car ownership records.
There is also a big impact on Ecuadorian companies. The leaked data contained information about employees, as well as details about many companies. These businesses may be at risk of business espionage and fraud.
According to Anurag Kahol, CTO, Bitglass, the data breach is significant in terms of scale: "This data breach is one for the record books, with 20.8 million user records exposed including 6.7 million children. The compromised information included names, home addresses, work and financial information, along with other extremely sensitive details."
He adds that the significance of this is that "the exposed data puts everyone that was affected at risk for future attacks such as identify theft, a long-term effect – especially for the children."
However, such problems are detectable, according to Kahol: "Although this misconfiguration was discovered by security researchers, there are tools designed to detect abusable misconfigurations within IT assets, like ElasticSearch databases."
It also stands that for businesses, Kahol notes: "Organizations must have full visibility and control over their customer data to prevent these types of misconfigurations. To ensure data is always safe, companies should look for security platforms that enforce real-time access control, detect misconfigurations through cloud security posture management, encrypt sensitive data at rest, manage the sharing of data with external parties, and prevent the leakage of sensitive information.”
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