Security News Survey – May 31, 2019

This week, we look at the Flipboard data breach, another unsecured Elastic database, and an update in the Baltimore cyberattack saga.


We’re wrapping up another turbulent month of cybersecurity headlines with another week of data breaches, unsecured databases, and cyber attacks. Let’s jump right in.

Flipboard data breach compromises usernames and passwords

Palo Alto-based news aggregator app Flipboard notified users this week of a security breach wherein hackers infiltrated the company’s systems for a period of at least nine months. In an official statement, Flipboard disclosed that it detected “unauthorized access” to several databases between June 2, 2018, and March 23, 2019, and then again between April 21 and April 22, 2019. The databases contained customer information, including usernames, passwords, emails, and more. Although passwords were hashed and salted, the company reset all user passwords as a security precaution. It’s not immediately clear how many accounts were compromised by the hackers, but Flipboard appears confident that not all users were impacted.

Chinese database exposes more than 40 million dating app records

An unsecured Elastic database registered to a Chinese owner has exposed 42.5 million records associated with various lesser-known dating apps. A security researcher discovered the exposed database and published his findings this week, revealing that most records are related to American users, followed by a small percentage of U.K., Canada, Australia, and other English-speaking nationalities. Data found within the database included account names, age, and location. The database is still live as the owner has yet to be identified.  The security researcher who discovered the database revealed that the registration of the domain appears to be falsified, and the developers of the apps in question can only be contacted through the apps, which requires installing the program on a device.

Needless to say, the circumstances around this situation are suspect at best. This is not the first unsecured database we’ve seen; it appears to be all too common these days. However, this incident is a reminder to be careful what applications you install and share information with. As a best practice, do your research about the developer of an app your considering, pay attention to reviews and privacy policies, and keep an eye out for any strange permissions the app requires.

EternalBlue identified as key tool in Baltimore cyberattack

We’ve been following the cyber attack on Baltimore, MD, over the past few weeks, and more developments have come to light. As a refresher, the city was hit with ransomware that ended up shutting down thousands of computers and interrupting various city services. Last weekend, the New York Times published an in-depth article revealing that the malware in question was able to spread across the company’s networks thanks to the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the National Security Agency and leaked by Shadow Brokers in 2017. Since it was leaked, EternalBlue has wreaked havoc in the hands of malicious actors, including the catastrophic WannaCry outbreak. Baltimore isn’t alone in its cybersecurity struggles; various American towns have reportedly suffered at the hands of EternalBlue attacks. This latest revelation is fueling the call for accountability for the leaked exploit, including congressional oversight that will push government agencies in that direction. Baltimore officials are still refusing to pay the attackers’ ransom demand, and recent estimates put the city’s damages and costs at around $18 million.