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The United Nations accidentally exposed passwords and internal information to the public-facing internet by misconfiguring Trello boards and other web applications.
Security researcher Kushagra Pathak discovered the data leak by doing Google searches, which turned up on public Trello boards. The information included credentials for a U.N. file server, an internal conferencing system and an internal web development platform. Trello, a project management web app, sets newly created boards to private by default, so any boards set to public were configured that way by the owner of the board.
Pathak told The Intercept that after he found one public Trello board in use by the U.N., it was easy to find others by looking the board's users and discovering what other boards they were active on. On other public Trello boards, he found links to the issue tracking app Jira, where there was more sensitive information, and to Google Docs and Google Drive instances with documents that contained passwords.
Pathak reported his findings to the U.N.'s security team on Aug. 20. On Twitter, he criticized the U.N.'s response to his report; the organization didn't acknowledge it until Sept. 4, and no action was taken until Sept. 12, when a reporter from The Intercept reached out to the U.N. for comment.
The response and action time of the United Nations security team on this was really bad. They took 14 days to reply to my report and 23 days to start taking any action on my reports.— Kushagra Pathak (@xKushagra) September 24, 2018
While Pathak waited for the U.N. to address the report, he found and reported even more public Trello boards used by the organization; he found a total of 60 Trello boards, and several Google Docs and Google Drives, as well as sensitive information on the U.N.'s Jira account.
The U.N. began taking down the exposed information on Sept. 13, and most of it appears to be gone now.
Pathak has a history of finding public Trello boards containing sensitive information. He had previously discovered 50 such boards belonging to the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada that contained sensitive internal information, and in April 2018, he found a trove of sensitive credential information on Trello that belonged to dozens of organizations.
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