Viacom left the keys of its digital kingdom on a publicly exposed AWS S3 bucket

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The security researcher Chris Vickery discovered that Media giant Viacom left sensitive data and secret access key on unsecured Amazon AWS S3 bucket.

Media giant Viacom left sensitive data and secret access key on unsecured Amazon AWS S3 bucket, a gift for hackers. Viacom controls Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

The huge trove of data store was discovered by the popular security researcher Chris Vickery, director of Cyber Risk Research at security shop UpGuard.

The Amazon AWS S3 bucket contained 72 compressed .tgz files in a folder labeled ‘MCS’ name which appears to be Viacom’s Multiplatform Compute Services division that operates IT systems for the firm.

The cloud storage exposed a gigabyte’s worth of credentials and configuration files for the backend of dozens of Viacom properties.

“While Viacom has not confirmed to UpGuard the purpose of this bucket, the contents of the repository appear to be nothing less than either the primary or backup configuration of Viacom’s IT infrastructure. The presence of this data in an S3 bucket bearing MCS’s name appears to further corroborate the Viacom group’s mission of moving its infrastructure onto Amazon Web Services’ cloud.” states Vichery.

The Amazon AWS S3 contained the passwords and manifests for Viacom’s servers, as well as the access key and private key for the corporation’s AWS account. Some of the data was encrypted using GPG, but the disconcerting news is that the bucket also contained the related decryption keys.

“While the exposure has since been closed, following UpGuard’s notification to Viacom, this incident highlights the potentially enormous cost such data leaks can evince upon even the largest and most sophisticated organizations. Exposed in this incident were nothing less than the master controls needed to harness the power of a digital media empire and turn it towards nefarious aims.” added Vickery.

“The leaked Viacom data is remarkably potent and of great significance, an important reminder that cloud leaks need not be large in disk size to be devastating; when it comes to data exposures, quality can be as vital as quantity,” 

Vickery was disconcerting by its discovery and highlighted the risks faced by the organization.

“Perhaps most damaging among the exposed data are Viacom’s secret cloud keys, an exposure that, in the most damaging circumstances, could put the international media conglomerate’s cloud-based servers in the hands of hackers,” says Vickery.

“Analysis of the Viacom leak reveals nothing less than this: the keys to a media kingdom were left publicly accessible on the internet, completely compromising the integrity of Viacom’s digital infrastructure.”

Viacom sent the following statement to Vickery

“Once Viacom became aware that information on a server – including technical information, but no employee or customer information – was publicly accessible, we rectified the issue. We have analyzed the data in question and determined there was no material impact.”

The Viacom case is just the latest in order of time of Amazon S3 buckets found unsecured online.

Earlier September, researchers from cybersecurity company UpGuard have discovered thousands of files containing personal data on former US military, intelligence, and government workers have allegedly been exposed online for months.

On August, Vickery discovered more than 1.8 million voter records belonging to Americans have been accidentally leaked online by a US voting machine supplier for dozens of US states.

In June, Vickery discovered that a top defense contractor left tens of thousands sensitive Pentagon documents on Amazon Server Without any protection in places.

Chris Vickery discovered many other clamorous cases of open database exposed on the Internet. In July, he discovered data belonging to 14 million U.S.-based Verizon customers that have been exposed on an unprotected AWS Server by a partner of the telecommunications company. In December 2015, the security expert discovered U.S.-based Verizon customers that have been exposed on an unprotected AWS Server by a partner of the telecommunications company. In December 2015 the security expert discovered 191 million records belonging to US voters online, on April 2016 he also discovered a 132 GB MongoDB database open online and containing 93.4 million Mexican voter records.

In March 2016, Chris Vickery has discovered online the database of the Kinoptic iOS app, which was abandoned by developers, with details of over 198,000 users.

In January 2017, the expert discovered online an open Rsync server hosting the personal details for at least 200,000 IndyCar racing fans.

In March, he announced a 1.37 billion records data leak, in June 2017 Vickery revealed the DRA firm left 1.1 TB of data unsecured on an Amazon S3, 198 million US voter records exposed.