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Database Exposes Medical Info, PII Data of 137k People in U.S.

A publicly accessible Elasticsearch database discovered on March 27 exposed various types of personally identifiable information (PII) and medical info of more than 100,000 individuals.

Security Discovery’s researcher Jeremiah Fowler who discovered the unprotected Elasticsearch database found out after further investigation that the leaked data belonged to SkyMed, a company which provides medical emergency evacuation services for about 30 years.

As the researcher says, the Elastic database was “set to open and visible in any browser (publicly accessible) and anyone could edit, download, or even delete data without administrative credentials.”

The database contained 136,995 records of SkyMed members and included PII data such as full names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, with some of the entries also including medical information.

Besides finding hundreds of thousands of leaked member records, Fowler also discovered that the company’s network might have also been infected at some point in time with an unknown ransomware strain.

This was revealed when the researcher found a ransom note entry named “howtogetmydataback” in SkyMed’s unsecured ElasticSearch database.

Database secured despite no communication
While the company did not provide any feedback to the researcher’s reports on the exposed database, the good news is that SkyMed did take down the database eventually.

“The first data incident notification was sent on March 27th (the same day it was discovered). On April 5th we verified that the database was closed and no longer publicly accessible. No one from SkyMed replied to either message,” stated Fowler.

BleepingComputer also reached out to SkyMed to ask if breach notifications were sent to the impacted individuals but the company did not provide a response prior to publication.

One of many unsecured ElasticSearch databases

This is definitely not the first and probably will not be the last time an ElasticSearch database is left exposed to anyone on the Internet. Since the start of 2019, unsecured ElasticSearch databases leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive legal documents “not designated for publication,” roughly 33 million profiles of Chinese people seeking jobs, and over 108 million bets at various online casinos exposing the bettors’ PII data.

Additionally, more than 32 millions records of SKY Brasil customers and over 114 million records of US citizens and companies were also impacted by data leaks stemming from unsecured ElasticSearch databases during November 2018.

Elastic, ElasticSearch’s developers, explained in a blog post published back in December 2013 that Elastisearch servers should never be exposed to the Internet given that it should be accessed only on the internal network via localhost or 127.0.0.1.

Elastic advises administrators to set passwords for the built-in users, to secure the ElasticSearch stack by implementing measures for “encrypting communications, role-based access control, IP filtering, and auditing,” and to correctly configure the ElasticSearch installation.

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