Millions of scraped public social net profiles left in open AWS S3 box

Poorly configured cloud buckets strike again – this time, LocalBlox fingered


US social network data aggregator LocalBlox has been caught leaving its AWS bucket of 48 million records – harvested in part from public Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles – available to be viewed by anyone who stopped by.

Security biz Upguard wandered by on February 18, and found the publicly accessible files in a misconfigured AWS S3 storage bucket located at the subdomain "lbdumps." There's no evidence that anyone else stopped by for a peek, but it's possible.

We're told the S3 bucket contained a single 151.3GB compressed representation of a 1.2TB ndjson (newline-delineated JSON) file. The database describes "tens of millions of individuals," we're told.

Upguard, in a blog post on Wednesday, said it informed LocalBlox on February 28, and the bucket was secured later that day.

Poorly configured AWS S3 buckets have been an source of shame for Amazon Web Services and its users. Last year, the cloud platform giant introduced a tool to warn customers about insecure storage setups and earlier this year made the business version of the tool free, to avoid embarrassment by association.

Still, the problem persists and the forecast continues to look bleak. Last year, Gartner research VP said Jay Heiser predicted that through 2020, "95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer's fault."

According to Upguard, the data profiles appear to have been collected from multiple sources. They include names, street addresses, dates of birth, job histories scaped from LinkedIn, public Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, and Zillow real estate data, all linked by IP addresses.

Some of the data, the security company suggests, appears to have come from purchased databases and payday loan operators. Other data points – associated with queries like pictures, skills, lastUpdated, companies, currentJob, familyAdditionalDetails, Favorites, mergedIdentities, and allSentences – appear to have been scraped through searches of Facebook.

LocalBlox has posted samples of its data profiles on its website.

"The presence of scraped data from social media sites like Facebook also highlights an important fact: all too often, data held by widely used websites can be targeted by unknown third parties seeking to monetize this information," Upguard said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged "we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped" by "malicious actors."

Zuckerberg, testifying before Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, insisted Facebook users have control over their data. From this case it looks more like no one has much control over it.

LocalBlox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ®

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022