(Image: file photo) Technology and cloud giant Accenture has confirmed it inadvertently left a massive store of private data across four unsecured cloud servers, exposing highly sensitive passwords and secret decryption keys that could have inflicted considerable damage on the company and its customers. The servers, hosted on Amazon's S3 storage service, contained hundreds of gigabytes of data for the company's enterprise cloud offering, which the company claims provides support to the majority of the Fortune 100.The data could be downloaded without a password by anyone who knew the servers' web addresses.Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at security firm UpGuard, found the data and privately told Accenture of the exposure in mid-September. The four servers were quietly secured the next day.According to Vickery, the four servers contained data that amounted to the "keys to the kingdom," he told ZDNet on a call last week. Each server contained a range of different types of credentials, including private signing keys that could be used to impersonate the company, and passwords -- some of which were stored in plaintext. Vickery said he also found Accenture's master keys for its Amazon Web Service's Key Management System (KMS), which if stolen could allow an attacker full control over the company's encrypted data stored on Amazon's servers.Kenneth White, a security expert, said the exposure of master keys is as "bad as it gets for a cloud service provider." "Whatever assets and infrastructure was being protected by this KMS master key must be assumed to be completely compromised," said White.One of the other servers contained a folder that stored keys and certificates that could be used to decrypt traffic between Accenture and its customers as it traveled across the internet. Vickery said he also found credentials that appear to relate to Accenture's access to Google's Cloud Platform and Microsoft's Azure, which could give an attacker further access to the company's cloud assets, as well as virtual private network keys, which could have allowed an attacker to access Accenture's internal corporate network. According to Vickery, the largest server contained over 137 gigabytes of data, which included large databases of credentials, some of which appeared to relate directly to Accenture customers. Vickery also found almost 40,000 passwords in one backup database -- the vast majority were stored in plaintext.When ZDNet first reached out to Accenture, the company downplayed the exposure, saying the data was less than half a percent of its cloud service, and that "none of our client's information was involved and there was no risk to any of our clients," citing the company's "multi-layered security model."When we challenged that assertion based on the information Vickery had seen, a spokesperson later said that an investigation was ongoing."We closed the exposure when the Amazon Web Services S3 issue was first reported. As we continue our forensic review we may learn more but, the email and password information in the database is more than two and a half years old and for Accenture users of a decommissioned system," the spokesperson said.Accenture isn't the first company to be stung by this kind of data exposure. In recent months, a spate of high-profile companies, including phone companies and voter records analytics firms, have exposed sensitive data because they allowed their Amazon cloud servers to sit open and unsecured.Vickery said that Accenture was likely using the Amazon servers to migrate data from development to production. While some of the data he found included test accounts, he said many of the credentials "would have led me to plenty of client data if I had been willing to take advantage of it." There was no way to know for sure as doing so would fall foul of US computer hacking laws, he said. "But if I have credentials for their production environments, it's pretty safe to say anyone using Accenture's Cloud Platform was at great risk," Vickery told ZDNet. UpGuard's Dan O'Sullivan, who blogged about the data discovery, said hackers could have done an "untold amount of financial damage" to Accenture and any of its cloud-using customers.We asked if anyone else had accessed the servers, the spokesperson said its logs showed access "by only a single non-authorized IP address which we traced back to a data security consultant who contacted us about about two weeks ago," referring to Vickery.We reached out to several companies whose credentials appeared in the data.None of the companies would speak on the record prior to publication. But one company said when they contacted Accenture, the company told them it was "not aware" of any breach or exposure.When asked, a spokesperson would not say if any Accenture customers had been informed of the data exposure. Contact me securely Zack Whittaker can be reached securely on Signal and WhatsApp at 646-755–8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5. Read More
IoT security is critical, hard, achievable: 3 best network practices
The rapid adoption and deployment of IoT devices is a significant contributor to digital transformation. To...
Other content in this Stream
Security Vendor Fortinet Sells SD-WAN Directly to Customers
The security vendor Fortinet is offering software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology directly to end customers.
Amazon Web Services in test phase with white box switches: report
Amazon Web Services may throw its considerable weight into the white box ring, which could have large implications for Cisco and other vendors. Amazon is currently testing white box switches that...
What Cloud Natives Can Teach the Rest of Us
Cloud natives differ from traditional companies in more ways than just their lack of legacy infrastructure: They think and operate differently.
Building an Adaptive and Secure SD-WAN Framework to Support Digital Transformation
CSO offers the latest information and best practices on business continuity and data protection, best practices for prevention of social engineering scams, malware and breaches, and tips and...
Locking It Down: Securing Multicloud IT Across Industries | Light Reading
As healthcare, financial services, and education move to multi-cloud they face different security requirements.
Windstream's Nichols, Frane discuss why open source is important
While the road to virtualization has included potholes and bad signage, open source can provide the right roadmap, according to Windstream executives.
Windstream embarks on orchestration journey with SDNow service
Windstream is taking on orchestration and virtualization one bite at a time with its SDNow service. Windstream announced a major expansion of its SDN Orchestrated Waves (SDNow) service in October.
Machine Learning, Cloud, Compliance and Business Awareness Drive Cybersecurity
Gartner determine the six trends that it sees driving cybersecurity forward
The Future of Edge Computing: Not Just for IoT
With the continuing avalanche of computing demand and data moving compute and data closer to the user is now a necessity.
Industry Voices—Raynovich: Why large service providers and networking companies missed the SD-WAN boat
While the SD-WAN and network-as-a-service market is booming, some service providers have been slow out of the starting blocks. Futuriom recently released its 2018 SD-WAN Growth Outlook report,...
Expectation vs. reality — where are CSPs in their development of partnership ecosystems? (Reality Check)
In 2018, with the commoditization of voice and data services firmly in the cards, the digital market appears to be the market of choice for communication service providers (CSPs) hoping to boost...
CenturyLink: Security Sales All in the Timing
Enterprises want better security at a lower cost but they aren't going to give up what they've already invested in to get it.
Fortinet Acquires Bradford Networks
Learn more about how the combination of Fortinet and Bradford Networks extends segmentation and security to the enterprise network edge.
AI Doesn’t Eliminate Jobs, It Creates Them
Automation and AI are not eliminating jobs, they are creating them — high-paying, high-level and secure ones at that — at an unprecedented rate. As the levels of data continue to grow, that will...
Global carriers agree on common IoT security framework
Sixteen mobile network operators around the world have agreed to use a common security framework for the internet of things that was developed by the GSMA. According to the GSMA, carriers which...
Why Enterprises Struggle with Hybrid Cloud and DevOps
More enterprises are moving to the cloud and implementing DevOps, containers and microservices, but their efforts are falling short of expectations. A recent study from the Ponemon Institute...
The Holy War of Enterprise Tech: One Cloud Isn't Enough
Enterprises may be asking for trouble if they go with a single-cloud strategy.
Why SD-WAN Is Taking Off Now
It's clear that SD-WAN is now seen as the enterprise networking architecture of the future, which is why this market will reach billions of dollars.
How Fortinet Connects with Communications Service Providers (CSPs)
Fortinet’s charter with CSPs is to interpret market trends, address key issues, and help drive carrier businesses forward. By improving your competitive positioning, we help everyone make money....
Empowering Security in the CSP’s IoT Infrastructure and Services