Home Politics India 1.5 bn sensitive documents on open internet

1.5 bn sensitive documents on open internet

The unprotected data amounted to some 12 petabytes, or four thousand times larger than the "Panama Papers" document trove which exposed potential corruption in dozens of countries

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Washington: Some 1.5 billion sensitive online files, from pay stubs to medical scans to patent applications, are visible on the open internet, security researchers said today.
Sensitive information is data that must be protected from unauthorized access to safeguard the privacy or security of an individual or organization.

Sensitive personally identifiable information includes biometric data, medical information, personally identifiable financial information (PIFI) and unique identifiers such as passport or Social Security numbers. Threats include not only crimes such as identity theft but also disclosure of personal information that the individual would prefer remain private.

Sensitive business information includes anything that poses a risk to the company in question if discovered by a competitor or the general public. Such information includes trade secrets, acquisition plans, financial data and supplier and customer information, among other possibilities.

Researchers from the cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows said a scanning tool used in the first three months of 2018 found mountains of private data online from people and companies across the world.

The unprotected data amounted to some 12 petabytes or four thousand times larger than the “Panama Papers” document trove which exposed potential corruption in dozens of countries.

“These are files that are freely available” to anyone with minimal technical knowledge, said Rick Holland, a vice president at Digital Shadows.

The availability of open data makes it easier for hackers, nation-states or rival companies to steal sensitive information, Holland said.

The researchers said in the report that even amid growing concerns about hackers attacking sensitive data, “we aren’t focusing on our external digital footprints and the data that is already publicly available via misconfigured cloud storage, file exchange protocols, and file sharing services.”

A significant amount of the data left open was from payroll and tax return files, which accounted for 700,000 and 60,000 files respectively, Digital Shadows said.
It noted medical files and lists were also weakly protected, with some 2.2 million scans open to inspection.

Many corporate secrets were also out in the open including designs, patent summaries and details of yet-to-be-released products.

“While organizations may consider insiders, network intrusions and phishing campaigns as sources of corporate espionage, these findings demonstrate that there is already a large amount of sensitive data publicly available,” the report said.

 

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