An Adult Site Exposes User Data…. Which Is Not The Exposure That Users Wanted

CAM4, a popular adult platform that advertises “free live sex cams,” misconfigured an ElasticSearch production database so that it was easy to find and view heaps of personally identifiable information, as well as corporate details like fraud and spam detection logs. According to Wired, the database exposed 7 terabytes of names, sexual orientations, payment logs, and email and chat transcripts — 10.88 billions records in all

First of all, very important distinction here: There’s no evidence that CAM4 was hacked, or that the database was accessed by malicious actors. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t, but this is not an Ashley Madison–style meltdown. It’s the difference between leaving the bank vault door wide open (bad) and robbers actually stealing the money (much worse).

The mistake CAM4 made is also not unique. ElasticSearch server goofs have been the cause of countless high-profile data leaks. What typically happens: They’re intended for internal use only, but someone makes a configuration error that leaves it online with no password protection. “It’s a really common experience for me to see a lot of exposed ElasticSearch instances,” says security consultant Bob Diachenko, who has a long history of finding exposed databases. “The only surprise that came out of this is the data that is exposed this time.”

And there’s the rub. The list of data that CAM4 leaked is alarmingly comprehensive. The production logs Safety Detectives found date back to March 16 of this year; in addition to the categories of information mentioned above, they also included country of origin, sign-up dates, device information, language preferences, user names, hashed passwords, and email correspondence between users and the company.

This is not trivial. If you take the adult nature of what this site does out of the equation, this is a massive leak of data that could really have long term consequences for users of this site if this data was accessed. Which there isn’t evidence that it has been accessed. At least not at present. But if we start to see things like targeted attacks and extortion phishing emails start to pop up in users inboxes, then we’ll know that this has gone from bad to worse.

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