Two million Dow Jones customer details exposed via cloud

At least two million Dow Jones customers have had personal details exposed online via an unsecured cloud file repository.

Dow Jones, which owns the Wall Street Journal, confirmed to IT Pro that approximately 2.2 million customers were affected, though cybersecurity firm UpGuard estimates the number to be closer to four million accounts.

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The exposed information included the names, addresses, account information, email addresses, and last four digits of credit card numbers.

There were also 1.6 million exposed entries in a collection of databases known as "Dow Jones Risk and Compliance", which are subscription-based programmes used by financial institutions to understand how to be compliant with anti-money laundering regulations.

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The data was found on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 bucket, and had been configured to allow any AWS "Authenticated Users" to download the data. Amazon defines an authenticated user as any person with an AWS account, of which there are over a million users, and is free to sign up to.

A spokesperson for Dow Jones told IT Pro: "We were made aware that certain Dow Jones/WSJ subscriber and Risk & Compliance content was over-exposed on Amazon Cloud (not the open internet). This was due to an internal error, not a hack or attack. The customer information included basic contact information; it did not include full credit card or account login information that could pose a significant risk for consumers or require notification."

The spokesperson added: "The Risk & Compliance data included content curated exclusively from publicly available sources such as newspaper articles, government issued watch lists, and other publicly available information; it did not include any customer information. We have no evidence any of the [exposed] information was taken. Even so, we immediately secured the data once we became aware of the problem. We take the security of Dow Jones information very seriously."

Dan O'Sullivan, cyber resilience analyst at UpGuard, stated that the unsecured information "would be of use to any spammers or digital marketers, but could also be used [for a] far more malign effect". Malicious actors, for instance, could use the information for phishing, pretending to be from the Wall Street Journal and telling customers their account had been compromised or that there was a problem with their subscription.

Dow Jones isn't the only company to have exposed customer details online via an AWS server - a Verizon data breach last week saw six million customer records compromised on an unprotected AWS S3 storage server. Each record included the customer's name, mobile number, and account PIN as well as their home and email address, and Verizon account balance.

Verizon stated that there was no loss or theft of Verizon customer information and that "the overwhelmingly majority of information in the data set had no external value, although there was a limited amount of personal information included".

Meanwhile, the WWE exposed three million fans' accounts online in the same manner, and the AA also suffered a similar fate.

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Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.