Millions of Verizon customers affected by security breach

The culprit is an Israeli company called Nice Systems, which counts many Fortune 100 companies as its clients in projects ranging from financial fraud to customer engagement and satisfaction. Anyone who had the web address could download the data, ZDNet reported.

The data is found in an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server administered by an engineer for NICE Systems, which is based in Israel.

Regardless of its current connection to NICE, the S3 data "bucket" was unintentionally left exposed and ultimately discovered by UpGuard's Chris Vickery.

The data itself related to log files that were generated by Verizon customers calling the company between January and June this year with the data being compiled to "realize intent and extract and leverage insights to deliver impact in real time". While the culprits look to now have a lot of your personal information, the PIN numbers on the accounts where not compromised.

UpGuard, a Silicon Valley security firm that first reported the data breach, said as many as 14 million Verizon accounts may have been affected.

Incidentally, the data exposure was spotted by UpGuard, and Verizon was notified on June 13. Apparently, Nice Systems has mistakenly stored data such as telephone numbers and PINs to an unsecure cloud storage area, exposing the customers' privacy.

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The exposed data includes names, addresses, and account information along with Verizon account PIN codes used to verify customer identities alongside their given phone numbers.

"Possession of these account PIN codes could allow scammers to successfully pose as customers in calls to Verizon, enabling them to gain access to accounts-an especially threatening prospect, given the increasing reliance upon mobile communications for purposes of two-factor authentication", UpGuard said. Sophisticated state actors, looking for, say, information on government workers, were of particular concern, he added. Last month, UpGuard discovered exposed personal information belonging to more than 198 million registered US voters stored in an Amazon S3 bucket belonging to data firm Deep Root Analytics.

"In relation to this specific case, there are technologies available today that could have quickly, easily and cost effectively ensured appropriate configuration of the cloud service, denied unauthorised access, and encrypted the sensitive data at rest".

But much of the damage has already been done, and the worst part is that nobody knows who managed to get their hands on the data before the breach was closed.

"Cyber risk is a fact of life for any digital service", O'Sullivan said.

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