As if the massive breach that Marriott suffered last November in its reservations systems wasn't enough, it now has to contend with client data that has been exposed by a third-party management service.
vpnMentor researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar were scanning net ports when they discovered that an Elasticsearch database instance on port 9200 that belonged to the Pyramid Hotel Group (a hotel and resort management company that does this kind of management for Marriott) was open to unrestrained Internet access. Not only that, unrestricted access to 85.4GB of security audit logs was possible.
Pyramid has several hotels it operates, including Tarrytown House Estate (New York), Carton House Luxury Hotel (Ireland), Aloft Hotels (Florida) and the Temple Bar Hotel (Ireland).
The publicly accessible data includes information regarding Pyramid's operating systems, security policies, internal networks and application logs.
The researchers also note that, "The unsecured data that is publicly visible include both monitoring and alerts, reported system errors, misconfiguration, policy violations, potential attempted malicious breaches, and other cybersecurity events."
This kind of database gives a potential attacker the ability to monitor the hotels' network as well as gather valuable information about administrators and other users. It also facilitates the building of an attack vector that targets the weakest links in the security chain.
The researchers summed it up neatly when they said, "[This] also enables the attacker to see what the security team sees, learn from their attempts based on the alerts raised by the systems, and adjust their attacks accordingly."
There was also a guest safety consideration involved here. vpnMentor found in the database there were multiple devices that control hotel locking mechanisms, electronic in-room safes and other physical security management systems.
Additionally, information belonging to hotel employees, such as their full names and usernames, was exposed.
There have been many security incidents involving Elasticsearch databases recently, so it is not that surprising to find another occurrence.
Pankaj Parekh, chief product and strategy officer at SecurityFirst, told Security Now that, "This breach is an example of a combination of vulnerabilities. There is a business partner, outside of the direct control of the companies affected. Keeping strong security practices for data shared between business partners is an important area of concern.
"In addition, this type of data is outside of the mainstream attention of security practitioners, who have been most focused on protecting the privacy of customer data. Even though it's obvious that security parameters such as these should be very carefully protected, this data was not secured."
vpnMentor thinks that some basic security measures are called for, even though PHG has taken the corrective measures to secure the database. They would like to see enterprises do the following on a routine basis:
"First and foremost, secure your servers.
Implement proper access rules.
Never leave a system that doesn't require authentication open to the internet."
— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.