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Data breach

Unsecured MongoDB database exposes real-time locations of families.


On March 25, 2019, Family Locator, an app that reports the whereabouts of family and friends, reported that it had been exposing the real-time locations of 238,000 users for weeks due to an unprotected server. The data that was exposed also included usernames, email addresses, profile photos, and plaintext passwords. None of the data was encrypted.

What happened.

Family Locator allows users to track family members and set up geofencing features, which can notify users when a family member leaves work or arrives at school. Exposing such information means that anybody could get information on the location of the users and their family members at any point in time.

The unsecured database was discovered by Sanyam Jain, a security researcher and member of the GDI Foundation. After the leak was identified March 22, 2019, Microsoft took the database offline, as it was being hosted on its Azure cloud.

Another recently-discovered data leak showed that 18 unprotected MongoDB servers contained publicly available data of a Chinese surveillance program. And a month before that, researcher Bob Diachenko discovered an unprotected database with 809 million email records containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

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