back to article Yet another AWS config fumble: Time Warner Cable exposes 4 million subscriber records

Records of roughly four million Time Warner Cable customers in the US were exposed to the public internet after a contractor failed to properly secure an Amazon cloud database. Researchers with security company Kromtech said freelancers who handled web applications for TWC and other companies had left one of its AWS S3 storage …

  1. WibbleMe

    Why mention AWS so much, the service could be hosted by a cat or AWS. Its up to the company to close all doors for their apps.

    1. captain_solo

      Um, the cloud is magic, you don't need security and you don't need people to manage it, duh!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Um, the cloud is magic, you don't need security and you don't need people to manage it, duh!

        Don't forget to mention that it doesn't require any of that pesky and expensive "expertise" - you can do that on the cheap too!

        As someone else mentioned, the problem with people that look for cost savings instead of value is that they start cutting everywhere because they know they will be long gone with their consulting fee and/or savings bonus before the problems they have caused start to emerge.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          "As someone else mentioned, the problem with people that look for cost savings instead of value is that they start cutting everywhere because they know they will be long gone with their consulting fee and/or savings bonus before the problems they have caused start to emerge."

          Yes. The difference between cutting costs and reducing spend is subtle but crucial.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Why mention AWS so much'

      Bound to happen... Amazon are the biggest cloudfuck operator and its their silos that are leaking... The fact that the customer is really to blame is irrelevant. If you're a cybercrim / hacker you're spending quality time raiding S3 looking for open barn doors etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: 'Why mention AWS so much'

        "Bound to happen... Amazon are the biggest cloudfuck operator and its their silos that are leaking.."

        Yes and I blame Wimpey homes when people leave their front doors and windows wide open, piss off on holiday for 6 months and have all their electrical equipment nicked!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More CloudFog

    Enjoy! ... Its only the beginning! The endless search for cost savings in exchange for fast corporate bonuses / early retirement... By the time the-shit-hits-the fan, those who originally signed off will have long left the building...

  3. Alister Silver badge

    So, genuine question, is it the default for AWS S3 databases to be publically accessible, or is this a setting that the all these companies have changed from the default?

    If the former, maybe Amazon should review their default settings, if the latter, the companies involved deserve to be litigated out of business.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'is it the default'...

      * Default or not, does it really matter ? I say No! Because decades of network access up to now says you make no assumptions... Instead you double and treble check your locks always etc... Whereas what this says, is that the rise of the cloud is being purely driven by selfish corporate cost control.

      * If so, its a true living nightmare scenario for the future of data security... As lawsuits won't fix this, fines won't fix this... This is why hackers / Cybercrims and scammers have already won the data wars uncontested imho. The recent VMWare Reg article 'Wants security industry to shrink' speaks volumes...

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: 'is it the default'...

        Default or not, does it really matter ? I say No! Because decades of network access up to now says you make no assumptions... Instead you double and treble check your locks always etc... Whereas what this says, is that the rise of the cloud is being purely driven by selfish corporate cost control.

        Whilst I sort of agree with your first point, I think the bigger problem is the rise of the culture where developers are encouraged to go their own way and shove their data into a convenient cloud without any consultation with the IT staff who might have had some clue about network security.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'is it the default'...

        Do you know the answer (I do not). I think the question is relevant especially given that seemingly over 3/4 of IT shops bitched at MS for years over their not making secure settings the default. Eventually they caught on and did something about it.

        I say someone should answer this and shine a light on a bad AWS practice if indeed the default is Public.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'is it the default'...

          No, it is not the default for S3 buckets. The default setting is that only the owner has read-write access; no one else has any access. You must intentionally change a setting for an S3 bucket to be world-readable.

          In fact, if you have world-readable S3 buckets in your AWS account, AWS periodically sends you remind-o-grams, asking if that's what you really want.

          So it's unclear why there's so much desire here to place blame on AWS. Misconfigured security settings is absolutely a customer problem.

          1. Alister Silver badge

            Re: 'is it the default'...

            Thank you for answering the question.

            So, as I said above, the companies responsible (and in this case that would be BroadSoft, not Time Warner or Amazon) should be brought to account.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

    Check out: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/s3-access-control.html for details.

    This has *always* been the case; users have to explicitly set permissions for buckets / objects to be accessible outside of their account (authenticated users, or everyone).

    Note that there is also clear guidance on security responsibilities (the "AWS shared responsibility model") here: https://aws.amazon.com/compliance/shared-responsibility-model/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

      Indeed, but that won't spoil the fun of the Luddites on here who would like to pretend that cloud is less secure than their own bit barns.

      So, in olde-worlde terms, lets say you have a perimeter firewall, and you open port 22 to the world, then you have open routing behind it, then you set all your root passwords to "password", then you get hacked and your data is stolen.

      Who's fault would this be:

      a) The firewall vendor

      b) The Data Centre operator

      c) The router manufacturer

      --or--

      e) The idiot who configured it

      Cloud doesn't stop you from doing stupid things, it gives you the tools to do smart things but you still need to manage it, its just simpler to do the routine stuff like security, but its not idiot proof.

      1. Steve Aubrey
        Headmaster

        Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

        I was going to go with option D, but . . .

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

          Yeah fair enough, you got me there...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

        Cloud doesn't stop you from doing stupid things, it gives you the tools to do smart things but you still need to manage it, it's just simpler to do the routine stuff like security

        Bzzt - wrong. This is one of those dangerous things I see all the time: because some vendor declares themselves "secure" because they happen to have a switch for it does not remove the need to have competent security people evaluate the whole scenario. If the original topic of this article would have had decent security processes in place this would have been found either in Ready For Service signoff process or on the next audit. And to do that you need specialists (unless you want your insurance to laugh in your face when you try to claim).

        It's a myth that going cloud means easier security - if anything, you have just substantially enlarged your attack surface. I'd treat cloud storage as exposed by default unless proven and verified otherwise, and I'd add a ton of monitoring to ensure I can tell when that changes for any reason.

        As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that that exact myth is what caused all these discovered exposures to take their eye off the ball.

        1. GoldCoaster

          Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

          The big cloud vendors like AWS don't "declare themselves secure", they publish and are regularly audited on the security of their areas of responsibility, by dozens of regulatory bodies worldwide.

          Cloud security *configuration* is much easier than on-prem, its easier to set a policy on an AWS VPC Security Group, or an Azure Vnet NSG than for instance on a checkpoint firewall, I know. I've done all 3.

          Security *design* is just as important in cloud or legacy environments.

          A good idiot can stuff up either, but given equal competence Cloud is more secure, because the cloud providers can build a better, more secure data centre than you can.

        2. Richard Jones 1
          WTF?

          Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

          @ AC, it may or may not make routine stuff like security easier, that is not really the point you addressed in your post. The fact that something is made easier is of no use if you do not bother to get even the easy configuration done. I see you assume that the worst case applies until you have checked and double checked that all possible steps have been taken to secure the shop. So one brownie point for you and all of those who follow that example.

          However, if Joe Thickastwoplanks Or Bertie Cheapscate does not bother to look let alone check they have not messed up; then the ease or difficulty of getting it right does not matter. The fact that AWS was said to send out reminders of misconfiguration suggests that the Joes and Berties might need to invest in some staff who can read and do some basic checking as well.

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

            "The fact that AWS was said to send out reminders of misconfiguration"

            I'm not sure how often AWS do this in all honesty. I've had one, about a month ago, in 5 years of using AWS (and we've had deliberately open buckets for about 2 years, because we have developers who can't cope with authentication and we're publishing it to the Internet anyway).

            Securing s3 buckets properly is hard though. Configuring vpc access only involves modifying the subnet routing table and setting deny rules on the bucket security groups. I bet I'm one of the very few have actually done this.

            And then a whole load of AWS stuff stops working (lambda, for example, until recently - the new AWS toys are released without VPC support initially).

            And then you get into all the Big Data and EMR stuff, which doesn't support application level encryption.

            Redshift Spectrum, a Data Warehouse technology, launched without (and still doesn't have) encryption or VPC support.

            The combination of AWS products not understanding encryption and not understanding VPCs leads the lazy to rely on just IAM, and IAM is so easy to get wrong. As I've said before here, their documentation often recommends grant * to *, which isn't helpful.

            Security comes through multiple layers. In their rush to get products out AWS tend to start without those layers.

      3. jason.bourne
        Angel

        Re: S3 bucket default is *private* to that account

        Option "D" for Derpy

        I have this idea for a toy Nerf(c) gun to sell to kids. Sure, you flip one switch and it becomes a real AR-15 assault rifle, but the default position of the switch is "Kids Nerf Gun". Should I create a GoFundMe for this?

  5. thomas k

    Hmm, no email from them

    ... yet.

  6. BagOfSpanners

    Has S3 replaced USB keys?

    Does this mean that leaving USB keys in pub car parks is now an outdated method of distributing data?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has S3 replaced USB keys?

      Oh, that still works with professions that have only just moved away from parchment, ink and feather pens (making local ducks happy) such as government and the legal profession.

      If the recipient likes dressing up during office hours it will still work :)

  7. David Roberts

    Developer bad habits?

    Possibly developers have been security slapdash for decades because it just gets in the way of doing cool stuff quickly.

    Back in the day the operational staff probably kept them nicely caged in their festering pit of cool and cleaned up the more obvious stupidities during testing and deployment.

    These days you don't need that expertise because DevOps and Cloud. Code it, click and there you go. New live system. Disrupt, baby!

    Quality is boring, though, init.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Developer bad habits?

      In the old days you could put all sorts of rubbish on your box safe in the knowledge that it wasn't routable from the Internet.

      Nowadays everything is port 80 or 443, even file access (e.g. s3) and microservices mean every little thing has a REST over http endpoint visible from the Internet regardless if the inefficiency that creates.

      Putting everything on http is the equivalent of not having a firewall.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change your UserID?

    Yes, they actually let you change your assigned UserID. Wow!

    But then their email system will only allow passwords with letters and numbers. As usual with TWC, one win, one loss...

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