80 Million American’s Exposed in a Mystery Data Leak or Breach

There’s been another major leak/breach of information. This time, 80 million American’s have been exposed. Problem is, it’s unclear where the data even came from.

There’s been another mystery data leak or breach. Security researchers have uncovered an unencrypted database containing sensitive information of 80 million American’s. Usually, it’s very straight forward to figure out which organization the data belongs to. Unfortunately, researchers don’t have a clue this time around. From PCWorld:

There’s a lot we don’t know yet, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that the breach is incredibly widespread. It was unearthed by security researchers Ran Locar and Noam Rotem of vpnMentor, who only know that the unencrypted data is hosted by a Microsoft cloud server and appears to be limited to people over the age of 40. In dissecting the data, the researchers found that it “seems to itemize households rather than individuals,” and includes:

  • Full addresses, including street addresses, cities, counties, states, and zip codes
  • Exact longitude and latitude
  • Full names, including first, last, and middle initial
  • Age
  • Date of birth
  • At this point in time, the best guess is that it is an insurance company that was impacted. This is partly based on the fact that the people in the database appear to be more than 40 years old along with other pieces of information. The report also speculates that it could be a mortgage or healthcare company. Either way, this type of information can easily be used by identity thieves looking to score some quick cash.

    Mystery breaches are incredibly uncommon, but they do happen. In fact, last month, security researchers had a hard time pin-pointing the source of an 800 million account data leak. They did eventually figure out that it belonged to a company known as Verifications IO LLC, but that confirmation only came about because the company wound up admitting that it was them.

    Still, it’s always unnerving to see unencrypted mystery databases just randomly floating around out there. If you don’t know where it comes from, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to have that source of the data fixed.

    Just having a database in hand isn’t even enough information to tell people whether or not the database began floating around as a result of a leak or a breach. It could have been uploaded somewhere as a backup and someone else could have found it. In that case, it would be the result of a data leak. If, however, someone managed to hack a service and post that database somewhat carelessly somewhere after, then it would be the result of a breach.

    In any event, this is not a good situation for anyone involved. After all, good luck figuring out a plan for people to take corrective measures at this stage.

    Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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