NewsAugust 18, 2015 @ 8:51 AM

Insecure Configuration of MongoDB, Other Databases Could Be Leaking Information

Big data is supposed to offer companies a way to better serve customers or improve operations, but research shows cybercriminals may be more likely to profit from misconfigured databases, including MongoDB and Redis, which are leaking up to 1 petabyte of data.

According to security firm BinaryEdge, some of the most popular database products on the market are in many cases being used without any authentication whatsoever. This includes not only Redis and MongoDB, but also memcached and Elasticsearch. In many of the instances analyzed, researchers found large chunks of data that could be discovered and exploited by third parties.

This isn’t the first time misconfigured databases have raised major cybersecurity threats. An article on SecurityWeek referenced a similar research report published earlier this year that focused on MongoDB. That research showed that default configurations — which are easier to penetrate — were exposing information that should have been better protected.

Experts told SC Magazine UK the problem could be even worse than it appears. While big data has been one of the most discussed topics in the technology industry over the last few years, gaining insight from large chunks of information no longer requires a supercomputer or specialized data scientists. In fact, by looking at certain data sets and tampering with them — by injecting malware, for instance — an entire organization could be crippled, or the personal information of its customer base could be compromised.

Several of the database products included in the report have open source roots, including MongoDB. Open source has gotten a black eye in some enterprise circles ever since last year’s problems involving the Heartbleed vulnerability. In this case, however, it’s not necessarily a flaw with the products themselves. Instead, as iTnews noted, it could be a case of not using them properly or employing older, outdated versions. In other words, these are basic security best practices that more firms should already have in place that are being ignored.

Hopefully, the BinaryEdge research will have chief information security officers (CISOs) and their teams taking a closer look at their MongoDB, Redis or other database instances and addressing any issues quickly. After all, as SiliconANGLE reported, some of the data leaked seemed to refer to financial or health care information, which no one would want discovered by cybercriminals.

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Shane Schick

Writer & Editor

Shane Schick is a writer, editor and speaker who focuses on how information technology creates business value. He lives in Toronto.