The Shanghai Jiao Tong University is considered one of the most prominent academic institution based in China.
The exposed database containing 8.4TB in email metadata was discovered on May 22, 2019, through a Shodan search.
“While searching Shodan, I recently discovered an ElasticSearch database without any authentication. This database contained metadata related to a huge amount of emails. It was eventually confirmed that this server and the email metadata was controlled by a large university located in China. ”
The unprotected database was active at the time of discovery, it was containing 9.5 billion rows and its size increased from 7TB on May 23 to 8.4TB on May 24.
The email metadata was generated by the popular open-source email solution named Zimbra.
Based on the metadata, the expert was able to locate all email being sent or received by a specific individual. Exposed data also included the IP address and user agent of the person checking their email.
Paine reported the discovery to the University the day after the discovery, the institute quickly secured the archive in less than 24 hours.
Below the timeline of the leak: