Parliament IT bods' fail sees server's naked OS exposed to world+dog

Contents were cached by Google so we can all point and giggle

Updated Someone in the Parliamentary Digital Service managed to leave a server so completely exposed to the internet that Google indexed the Windows machine’s operating system.

Register reader Chris, who stumbled across this while searching for something related to a Google update, discovered that sizeable chunks of , well beyond what should have been firewalled off from the wider world, were exposed online.

“Looks like they were potentially exposing the entire system drive of the Windows webserver as read-only for some time,” he commented.

The information exposed through Google’s cache (the server itself seemed to have been taken offline) appears to contain large chunks of a Windows OS running, among other things, VMware, cygwin, Sophos antivirus, the Lynx WWW client, Splunk, Perl and the usual suite of Windows services.

While the read-only access provided through Google is merely embarrassing at best, and could provide some clues for black hats determined to break in for whatever reason, it is not known whether the exposure of the server itself was read-only or whether write access was available as well.

The Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) had not replied to The Register’s enquiries by the time of publication.

If you’re curious to see for yourself what Parliament’s running on its boxen, put this search string through Google:

The breach, as well as leaving several eggs on the faces of Parliament’s digital bods, is likely to provoke some pisstaking from the other government IT department, the infamous GDS. A few years ago PDS declared that it was hiring a bunch of techies to revamp its website and didn’t want GDS anywhere near it.

More seriously, two years ago a “sustained and determined” cyber attack saw 90 Parliamentary email accounts compromised by attackers who were not identified by the authorities. Nonetheless, the attack vector appeared to be a brute-force attempt to see if anyone had set any foolishly weak passwords, allowing for further exploitation. ®

Updated to add 17:36 BST 19/06

The Parliamentary Digital Service got in touch to say: "Although we are aware of a server associated with having an issue, no parliamentary data has been exposed and we are working with the server owner to resolve the issue."

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022