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Leaky database exposes tax records of 20 million Russians

A few months back, we saw the personal data of over 188 million people leak due to an insecure MongoDB Database. Then in September 2019, we saw the data of almost every Ecuadorian leaked in a massive data breach. A similar incident has occurred now but with Russia.

According to a report by Comparitech, more than 20 million tax records were found on an unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elasticsearch Cluster with personally identifiable information of Russian Citizens from 2009-2016. The timeline revealed provides an overview of how the incident folded over the months:

  1. In May 2018, the database was first found by search engines. This was possible since it was unprotected, it would not be considered a part of the deep web and hence indexable through the surface web.
  2. On September 17, 2019, a security researcher named Bob Diachenko notified the owner of the database based in Ukraine.
  3. Finally, on September 20, 2019, it was taken offline due to the alert by Bob.

Evident from the timeline, we could safely say that the data remained unexposed for over a year. Although it is not confirmed if the data got into unauthorized hands, we do have information on the fact that “the first database contained more than 14 million personal and tax records from 2010 to 2016, and the second included over 6 million from 2009 to 2015.”

Image of a leaked record from the database.

The following list of fields was found included among these records:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. The Status of Residency
  4. Passport Number
  5. Phone Number
  6. Tax ID Number
  7. Tax Amount
  8. Employer Details such as the name and phone number

We cannot determine whether anyone else accessed the data while it was exposed. The owner, who we only know is based in Ukraine, did not respond to our emails, wrote Comparitech’s reporter Paul Bischoff.

As observant, such information could successfully be used for malicious purposes such as identity theft and phishing campaigns presenting grave concerns over the irresponsibility showed by the owner.

Currently, though, the guilty party has not been able to be identified or contacted and how their fate will unfold in light of this still remains a mystery.

For Russian citizens, it is imperative that they move to implement stricter controls because it cannot be verified who exactly was compromised among these millions and hence, everyone should take precautions to avoid being conned because of the leaked data.

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