A hack discovered by us-based firm vpnMentor that has exposed a database of 80 million (nearly 65 percent) American households. The unprotected 24GB database, hosted on Microsoft Cloud servers, includes the number of people living in each household with their full names, their marital status, income bracket, age, and more. While some information is available freely, other data like title, gender, etc are coded.
What’s unusual is that the database is still unidentified, however, given the terminology used (like “member_code” and “score”), it appears that this database belongs to some kind of service that has members in it and they get scores.
vpnMentor believes that it is the first time a breach of this size has included peoples’ names, addresses, and income, and dubs the open database as a goldmine for identity thieves and other attackers.
This type of open database can give access to users’ full name that can be used to guess their email addresses. “Many people use email@example.com as their email address. While this makes sense, it also makes you easy to identify,” the firm said.
Users can also become vulnerable to phishing scams, and ransomware. With access to the information related to their income information, attackers will be well aware of how much they can extort money out of the victims.
If you search a person with his/her name and city on Google, scores of links (like profiles and photos on social media platforms) open up revealing a lot about that person. “Let’s assume you haven’t updated the security settings on your Facebook profile for a while, so your posts are visible to people you’re not friends with. Everything you post is open to the internet – including the vacation photos you uploaded that morning.
The geotag shows that you’re thousands of miles away from home,” the firm said. Since there’s a full address in the database, thieves know where you live, and a quick Google search has shown that you are not at home, you automatically become a prime target for attack.
Microsoft has taken the server offline and in a statement, they said,
“We have notified the owner of the database and are taking appropriate steps to help the customer remove the data until it can be properly secured”.
Microsoft has not revealed who owns the database.