Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Infosecurity Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

FedEx S3 Bucket Exposes Private Details on Thousands Worldwide

Personal information for thousands of FedEx customers worldwide has been exposed after a legacy Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud storage server was left open to public access without a password.

Kromtech Security Center researchers stumbled upon the AWS S3 bucket, finding that it contained more than 119,000 scanned documents, including passports, drivers’ licenses and Applications for Delivery of Mail Through Agent forms, which contain names, home addresses, phone numbers and ZIP codes.

The victims include citizens of countries around the globe, including Australia, Canada, China, EU countries, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and others.

The server turned out to be an inherited one, with information from Bongo International – a company that FedEx bought in 2014. Bob Diachenko, head of communications at Kromtech, noted that the shipping giant relaunched Bongo in 2016 as FedEx Cross Border International, to enable international shipping delivery and logistics. That service was closed down last April, but the bucket remained exposed.

"Technically, anybody who used Bongo International services back in 2009–2012 is at risk of having his/her documents scanned and available online for so many years,” Diachenko said. “Seems like [the] bucket has been available for public access for many years in a row. Applications are dated within [the] 2009–2012 range, and it is unknown whether FedEx was aware of that ‘heritage’ when it bought Bongo International back in 2014."

FedEx has now removed the server from public access and issued a statement saying that there’s no evidence that the data fell into nefarious hands.

“After a preliminary investigation, we can confirm that some archived Bongo International account information located on a server hosted by a third-party, public cloud provider is secure,” FedEx told ZDnet. “The data was part of a service that was discontinued after our acquisition of Bongo. We have found no indication that any information has been misappropriated and will continue our investigation.”

Tim Prendergast, CEO of Evident.io, noted that nonetheless, it’s a fact that hackers are actively searching for these kinds of misconfigurations.

“Hackers are going after S3 buckets and other repositories because that's where the data is but also because they're easy to find,” he said via email. “There's a whole hacker cottage industry around finding and exploiting S3 buckets, and it's growing because as cloud environments grow, so do the number of unsecured assets that are discoverable.”

The incident shows once again that many companies aren’t following best practices when it comes to securing their cloud infrastructure, and many seem confused about whose responsibility it is to provide that security.

“The incident, echoing others we’ve seen time and time again…raises the larger issue that many organizations have not yet fully grasped the idea that most public cloud providers are not managing their data – but are just providing a platform or infrastructure, so the management protection of data is left up to the companies themselves,” Obsidian Security CTO Ben Johnson said via email. “It’s critical that enterprises understand the risks of the cloud – that availability and uptime also mean that their data can be easily accessed unless they have the right controls in place.”

Brian NeSmith, CEO and co-founder at Arctic Wolf Networks, added: “We need to get our heads out of the clouds, because cloud services are only as secure as you make them. Companies need to start applying the same rigor and discipline to their cloud infrastructure as they do to their on-premises network.”

The incident also showcases the need to implement good security practices after a merger or acquisition.

“During any M&A transaction it is important that the company who is selling their assets notify their customers that the business is going to be sold and their private data will be transferred to new ownership,” Kromtech’s Diachenko said. “The purchasing company should give customers the option to opt out of their data being transferred and provide a data protection notice. This case highlights just how important it is to audit the digital assets when a company acquires another and to ensure that customer data is secured and properly stored before, during and after the sale. During the integration or migration phase is usually the best time to identify any security and data privacy risks.”

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?