Some personal desktop storage devices are leaking top corporate secrets to the internet – in one case, the designs for a hole-in-the-wall cash machine.
That's according to intelligence biz Digital Shadows, which tries to work out how proprietary and personal information accidentally escapes network boundaries.
We're told one particular off-the-shelf network-attached storage (NAS) box grants outside access to its file system without authentication by default.
This "easy share" feature is supposed to make passing information to other users more convenient, although it appears to be a little too convenient: miscreants aware of the "share everything" design flaw are scanning the public internet for vulnerable models, and grabbing sensitive stuff, it's claimed.
It's conceivable that NAS boxes might accidentally face the internet due to lax controls: picture an employee taking his or her work home, and backing up to a personal storage system that can be accessed via their flat's broadband connection.
Off-site contractors could also make the same mistake if their machines are not locked down. There's even the danger of workers using cloud-based storage for back ups, which then leak their contents insecurely. Some desktop drives even mirror their files to the cloud automatically.
Above all, sysadmins should keep an eye out for staff using NAS drives that are reachable from the external web – such the over-sharing product Digital Shadows identified.
"The device publishes an interface on a public IP address, which includes a search function whereby anyone connecting to the device using a web browser is able to search the contents of the device," a spokesman for the East Sussex, UK-based security biz told The Reg yesterday.
"They can then click through to view the files. We have seen discussion of these devices with links to documents shared between individuals exploiting this vulnerability – often exploiting these devices for the purposes of identity theft."
In the interests of responsible disclosure, Digital Shadows did not name the affected NAS box although it has warned the hardware's maker, we're told. "Due to the nature of the vulnerability, we are keen not to go into details, other than to say it is a known vulnerability. We have been in touch with the device manufacturer to ensure that they are aware," the spokesman explained.
"But given the deployed base of these drives, it is very difficult for the manufacturer to deploy fixes: it would require an update to the firmware of the devices, which requires action on the part of the user to update, or to reconfigure the sharing settings."
In the case of the ATM blueprint leak, a contractor using a company laptop backed up his or her work to a consumer-grade storage device, which exposed its contents to the internet – all thanks to its factory settings. In a separate but similar leak, contract bidding documents belonging to a US technology firm ended up online, we're told.
Luckily, this type of cock-up is uncommon, but Digital Shadows is worried there's a growing use of devices that, by default, share their contents without requiring authentication to access the files. One simply has to know a vulnerable box's IP address, for instance.
"Innocent people are backing up often sensitive work information to these devices, and the content is accessible to anyone. Most scarily, no authentication or access control is applied, allowing individuals to retrieve and search the contents of the drive," the spokesman added.
"Users of these drives are unaware that this misconfiguration exists, the first they know is that they have been involved in an incident."
Alastair Paterson, chief exec of Digital Shadows, reminded El Reg that relying on "data loss prevention" software to detect leaks of secrets from corporate networks is borderline useless against vulnerable NAS drives – when the boxes are used beyond the companies' boundaries by off-site contractors, staff working from home, and so on. ®