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809 million emails leaked from accessible MongoDB database (Includes interview)

The discovery of the unprotected, publicly accessible MongoDB database found it to be holding 150 gigabytes-worth of detailed, plaintext marketing data, much of it composed millions of email addresses. The trove, as Wired reports, is not only massive but also unusual; it contains data about individual consumers as well as what appears to be “business intelligence data,” like employee and revenue figures from various companies. This diversity may stem from the information’s source.

The database, owned by the “email validation” firm, was taken offline the same day it was reported to the company. In terms of the significance of the find, Chris DeRamus, CTO, DivvyCloud tells Digital Journal: “The data exposed in this leak of nearly 809 million records is unique, and highly exploitable since it includes business intelligence data such as employee and revenue figures from various companies, as well as genders, user IP addresses, email addresses, dates of birth and more.”

In relation to the implications, DeRamus explains: “If a bad actor were to discover this massive trove of data, they could easily validate the contact information for the users included to launch a more focused phishing or brute force campaign.”

The significance is not only confined to the database itself, but to the wider context. “We live in a world where data is king—collecting, storing and leveraging data is essential to running just about any type of business you can think of”, according to DeRamus.

This is, he clarifies “all the more reason organizations must be diligent in ensuring data is protected with proper security controls. Automated cloud security solutions would have been able to detect the misconfiguration in the MongoDB database containing this information and could either alert the appropriate personnel to correct the issue, or trigger an automated remediation in real-time.”

Businesses need to seriously putting such measures into effect. DeRamus notes how “These solutions are essential to enforce policy, reduce risk, provide governance, impose compliance and increase security across large-scale hybrid cloud infrastructure.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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