Microsoft careers data left wide open by exposed MongoDB database

The backend database supporting Microsoft's careers page contained poor security settings which allowed attackers to modify the database's job listing pages. [Updated]
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Security failures linked to a MongoDB database which exposed Microsoft's mobile careers page to attack have been rapidly patched.

In a blog post on MacKeeper, the security team said the MongoDB database was vulnerable to compromise and may have been serving arbitrary HTML through the mobile version of Microsoft's careers page.

The third-party provider which the Redmond giant uses to handle the database behind the careers page is Punchkick Interactive, a mobile app and Web development provider, which was responsible for setting up the database's security settings.

The problem lay within the PunchKick-ran MongoDB database's protection. The database itself was not write-protected, granting attackers the opportunity to modify the database's data and any HTML-based job listing pages served through the mobile Microsoft careers page.

This could not only lead to watering hole attacks, but browser exploits and phishing campaigns could also be served to job seekers. In addition, the credentials of Microsoft employees linked to the database were also exposed.

Microsoft was not the only company potentially impacted by the authentication error. Screenshots of the exposed database also show that hotel chains The Ritz and Marriot may have also been casualties of the issue.

As of February 5, the vulnerability has been fixed. In what MacKeeper calls "excellent incident response," PunchKick dealt with the problem within an hour of the problem being disclosed to the Web firm and Microsoft. However, the security team also says:

"The bad news is that, for at least the past few weeks, this backend database has been exposed to the open internet and required no authentication at all to access."

While the responsibility does not lie with Microsoft but the third-party provider responsible for handling the mobile platform and backend system, the vulnerability does highlight that a weakness in the chain can impact every company connected to one service.

Kelly Stirman, VP of Strategy at MongoDB, said:

"Recently a blog post was published that claimed a user had not properly secured their instance of MongoDB and was therefore at risk. [..] The potential issue is a result of how a user might configure their deployment without security enabled. There is no security issue with MongoDB -- extensive security capabilities are included with MongoDB."

"We encourage all users to follow the guidelines we prescribe for security. Security best practices are summarised here."

[Update 10.18am GMT: Clarification added to the article concerning the security issue, MongoDB statement.]

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