A database owned by TrueDialog storing millions of SMS text messages in plain text was found online, accessible to anyone and unprotected by passwords.
The data in the rogue database was found accessible online by vpnMentor security researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar. The millions of SMS messages included university finance applications, discount codes, usernames, passwords, and two-factor authentication numbers.
TrueDialog, based in Austin, Texas, collaborates with almost 1,000 network operators to send bulk SMS messages, from small and large businesses to users from all over the world.
When the researchers found the database, it was holding about 604 GB of data, with over 1 billion private entries. It was hosted on Microsoft Azure and ran on the Oracle Marketing Cloud, in the US. The fact that it was all stored in plain text immediately drew the researchers’ attention. All of TrueDialog’s client base was exposed, including their customers and phone numbers.
“There is also a significant impact for TrueDialog themselves, not including how this will negatively affect their reputation. Their competitors could have gotten a look into their backend and seen how the company is run from within,” said vpnMentor’s researchers. “This would have given them a way to copy, or improve upon, the business model that has brought TrueDialog success. And now that TrueDialog failed at keeping its customer database safe, its competitors can also take advantage of the bad publicity the brand is going to receive, and even take over their customers.”
While leaving names and phone numbers in the open is a big problem, the issue surrounding this leak is much more extensive. The emails can be used in targeted phishing scams, people are now susceptible to SIM-jacking, and other accounts from various other services are exposed as well. And that’s not even acknowledging how competitors could use this wealth of data.
According to TechCrunch, the owners pulled the database offline as soon as they found out but failed to communicate any other subsequent measures. At the very least, all of the people targeted by SMSs from them should be notified that their private information is now in the open. Also, the companies that used TrueDialog’s services should be made aware of the breach.
This is the second major incident in less than a week involving a massive database full of private information left out in the open. Personal data for 1.2 billion people was discovered in an open Elasticsearch mystery server, most likely originating from People Data Labs (PDL).