The popular security expert Chris Vickery discovered more than 60,000 sensitive files belonging to a US military project for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) left on Amazon cloud storage server without authentication.
The documents were reportedly left unsecured on a public Amazon server by one of the nation’s top intelligence defense contractor.
The files contain passwords to a US government system containing sensitive information and the security credentials of a senior employee of the top defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Vickery discovered the documents included login credentials for code repositories that could contain classified files and other credentials.
Digging the 28GB archive, the expert discovered the private Secure Shell (SSH) keys of a Booz Allen employee, and a half dozen plain text passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance.
“A cache of more than 60,000 files was discovered last week on a publicly accessible Amazon server, including passwords to a US government system containing sensitive information, and the security credentials of a lead senior engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation’s top intelligence and defense contractors.” reported Gizmodo.com “What’s more, the roughly 28GB of data contained at least a half dozen unencrypted passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance.”
The most disconcerting part of the discovery is that the archive The exposed data even contained master credentials granting administrative access to a highly-protected Pentagon system.
The files are no more available online but someone could have downloaded those sensitive documents with serious consequences for the US intelligence.
On May 24, Vickery first tried to notify the leak to Booz Allen Hamilton’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
“In short, information that would ordinarily require a Top Secret-level security clearance from the DoD was accessible to anyone looking in the right place; no hacking was required to gain credentials needed for potentially accessing materials of a high classification level,” wrote Dan O’Sullivan, Cyber Resilience Analys at UpGuard.
Booz Allen promptly launched an investigation into the data leak.
“Booz Allen takes any allegation of a data breach very seriously, and promptly began an investigation into the accessibility of certain security keys in a cloud environment,” a Booz Allen spokesman told Gizmodo. “We secured those keys, and are continuing with a detailed forensic investigation. As of now, we have found no evidence that any classified information has been compromised as a result of this matter.”
The Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which in March awarded Booz Allen an $86 million defense contract, is also forensic investigating the incident.
“We immediately revoked the affected credentials when we first learned of the potential vulnerability,” the NGA said in a statement. “NGA assesses its cyber security protections and procedures constantly with all of its industry partners. For an incident such as this, we will closely evaluate the situation before determining an appropriate course of action.” states Booz Alle”Booz Allen takes any allegation of a data breach very seriously, and promptly began an investigation into the accessibility of certain security keys in a cloud environment,” a Booz Allen spokesperson told Gizmodo.
“We secured those keys, and are continuing with a detailed forensic investigation. As of now, we have found no evidence that any classified information has been compromised as a result of this matter.”
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.
Vickery’s also disclosed a massive data breach at a U.S.-based data warehouse, Schoolzilla, which held personal information on more than a million American students (K-12).