Keyboard data leak exposes millions of personal records

06 December, 2017, 13:37 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • This is bad Huge security gaffe on popular keyboard app exposes private data of 31 million users 0

The personal data of over 31 million customers has been leaked online after the developers of popular virtual keyboard app, AI.type failed to secure the server that housed the database containing all of the user information their software had collected.

Speaking to the BBC, however, ai.type's founder and chief executive, Eitan Fitusi, referred to the leaked database as "a secondary database", and denied the scale of exposed data was as high as claimed.

Researchers had attempted to contact the company behind AI.type on multiple occasions but it wasn't until this past weekend that they finally acknowledged it. AI.type says it has now secured the database, and that the leak didn't impact AI.type's nine million iOS users.

Around 577 GB of data was exposed online, although only Android users are thought to be affected.

Nearly 6.5 million records also contained data collected from users' contact books, including names (as entered originally) and phone numbers, in total more than 373 million records scraped from registered users' phones, which include all their contacts saved/synced on linked Google account. Each record also included a user's precise location, including their city and country.

ZDNet who obtained a portion of the database to verify the information collected by the servers made a few scarier revelations to the breach.

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Researchers, who installed Ai.Type, were shocked to find out that users must allow "Full Access" to all of their data stored on their testing iPhone, including past and present keyboard data. Accompanying the numbers were the make and model of the device, its screen resolution and the version of Android it was running. Some also listed their IP addresses and the name of the internet provider for the Wi-Fi networks the user had accessed while using AI.type. Other records included information from linked Google profiles including profile pictures, email addresses, dates of birth and genders. One table listed 10.7 million email addresses, while another contained 374.6 million phone numbers.

While third-party keyboard applications are common to Android users, a number of users also use virtual keyboard applications. While it promises to keep the content "encrypted and private", the company failed to even secure the database. At this point, Kromtech warns that anyone who had ever downloaded and installed ai.type keyboard should consider their data out in the open.

'Some want to sell the data they collect, others use it for targeted marketing, predictive artificial intelligence, and cyber criminals want to use it to make money in more and more creative ways.

'It raises the question once again if it is really worth it for consumers to submit their data in exchange for free or discounted products or services that gain full access to their devices'.

Zack Whittaker can be reached securely on Signal and WhatsApp at 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

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