Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Verizon Breach: 6 Million Customer Accounts Exposed

Verizon Breach: 6 Million Customer Accounts Exposed

Ranging from account PINs to addresses and names, the massive breach has been toned down to 6 million, according to an official statement by Verizon.

Chris Vickery, a researcher at UpGuard, discovered the breach, reporting it to Verizon on June 13. But when you inadvertently leak personal information of millions of customers, well, other choice phrases might come to mind.

It claimed the "majority of information in the data set had no external value".

Verizon, the U.S. telecommunications juggernaut, has admitted that the data of at least six million of customers, including names, addresses, account details and account PIN numbers, were exposed online.

Employed to help channel customer service calls, Nice botched a simple cloud server security setting, making customer data public to anyone with a link. It asserted that the number of subscribers affected had been overstated.

On Wednesday, the company Verizon made the official announcement that, because of a security setting that was wrongly configured, personal data belonging to about 6 million people leaked on the internet.

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An Israeli company, Nice Systems, mistakenly designated the data, which was stored on an Amazon S3 server, as "public", ZDNet reported when it broke the story. The PIN codes are data pieces used by Verizon customers to confirm their identity when calling into the service center.

Each record included the customer's name, mobile number, and account PIN, along with their home address, email address, and their Verizon account balance.

UpGuard, a cyber security firm, discovered the leak and initially believed the hack to have affected almost 14 million customers. It's unclear if the data is limited to Verizon Wireless customers or if residential and business services (such as FiOS) had exposed customer data, too.

The security firm said the files were discovered on an unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) database on 8 June but that the issue was not fully resolved until weeks later, on 22 June 2017.

It's not easy for businesses to protect their customers' data these days, particularly when they share it with their partners.

Verizon told ZDNet that it believes no one actually accessed the data, and the data didn't contain truly sensitive information like social security numbers or bank accounts, but it's a wake-up call to anyone using cloud storage.

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