Verizon says no customer info lost in reported data breach

14 July 2017, 12:20 | Shawn Tate

Verizon contractor left 14M customers' data unprotected

Verizon security error leaves millions of customer records exposed

That was a sentiment not likely to be shared by those who had their names, addresses and account data exposed online. (NYSE:VZ) customers who called their help line over the past half year have unwittingly had their personal account details exposed to potential hackers.

No loss or theft of customer information occurred, Verizon told CNN Tech. "We regret the incident and apologize to our customers".

UpGuard notified Verizon of the vulnerability on June 13. The security hole was closed on June 22, according to UpGuard's report. The servers are secured by default, meaning leaks are generally the result of a change in the cloud's security settings. "Companies like Verizon must insist that third party vendors like Nice protect their customer data as they move it to the public cloud". Though UpGuard says that the nature of this AWS repository means that it's impossible to tell how many times the data had been accessed, Verizon and NICE say that no data was stolen. ZDNet reported that the data was leaked on an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server. That includes various details including names, street and email addresses, phone numbers, and PINs. UpGuard has declined to comment on how the Verizon data leaks were discovered.

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The carrier also played down concerns that PINS and associated phone numbers could be used to access customer accounts, saying that PINs are only used to authenticate calls to its call centre and do not provide online access. If they have those, they can change devices associated with the phone numbers of the account, thereby hijacking those phone numbers, or make fraudulent purchases through customer service. "Verizon's relationship with the customer is not at risk, but the customer is now at risk in other aspects of their lives".

Amazon Cloud Services, particularly the Amazon S3 storage unit, has had trouble with cyber security in recent months. In June, data of almost 3 Million WWE fans was leaked. This incorrect setting is said to be the root cause of the leak.

Whether or not Verizon gave Nice Systems access to these records, it's also concerning that the records were not encrypted in the first place. "The fact that no data may have been downloaded doesn't minimize the risk of instances such as this", said John Gunn, chief marketing office for VASCO Data Security. "As data becomes more powerful and more accessible, the potential consequences for it to be misused also becomes more risky".

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