Gartner’s Legacy System Exposed Online

On August 14th I have sent a responsible disclosure notice to Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, alerting them on a misconfigured Elasticsearch cluster with 1TB+ of data.

According to Shodan and BinaryEdge search engines, database was set to public since January and apparently had affiliation with CEB Inc., the industry leader in providing best practice and talent management insights. Gartner has completed its acquisition of CEB in April 2017.

Database in question contained the following collections:

In a response to my notification email, Gartner thanked me for the responsible disclosure, immediately secured the database and claimed that all data was collected from public sources.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention. We’ve investigated the issue and can confirm this was a legacy system containing only publicly sourced data. We have taken steps to remove public access to the system.

However, at least one collection from database named “super_ppp” contained more than 155M of records with quite detailed personal information, name, bio, skills, employment collected from LinkedIn / Github (with Github records containing emails as well), plus such fields as “Diversity”:

Additionally, an API key was also part of the exposure and could have been used to access even more information.

From my experience, even publicly sourced data collected in one place is still a treasure trove for malicious actors who might use this data to cross-reference with other breaches and come up with a full profile on a person and use it in phishing.

It is unknown, whether somebody else has accessed the data while it was set to public  but the chances are high that this information had been exfiltrated at some point.

Danger of having exposed Elasticsearch or similar NoSql databases is huge. I have previously reported that the lack of authentication allowed the installation of malware or ransomware on the Elasticsearch servers. The public configuration allows the possibility of cybercriminals to manage the whole system with full administrative privileges. Once the malware is in place criminals could remotely access the server resources and even launch a code execution to steal or completely destroy any saved data the server contains.

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About the Author

Bob Diachenko
I'm Bob Diachenko, I am Cyber Threat Intelligence Director and journalist at SecurityDiscovery.com. My goal is to help to protect data on the Internet by identifying data leaks and following responsible disclosure policies. Our mission is to make the cyber world safer by educating businesses and communities worldwide. Many of my discoveries have been covered in major news and technology media, earning myself a reputation as one of the reputable data security analytics. Contact me: bob(at)securitydiscovery.com