Data of millions of eBay and Amazon shoppers exposed by VAT analysing 3rd party

Researchers have discovered another big database containing millions of European customer records left unsecured on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for anyone to find using a search engine.

A total of eight million records were involved, collected via marketplace and payment system APIs belonging to companies including Amazon, eBay, Shopify, PayPal, and Stripe.

Discovered by Comparitech’s noted breach hunter Bob Diachenko, the AWS instance containing the MongoDB database became visible on 3 February, where it remained indexable by search engines for five days.

Data in the records included names, shipping addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, items purchased, payments, order IDs, links to Stripe and Shopify invoices, and partially redacted credit cards.

Also included were thousands of Amazon Marketplace Web Services (MWS) queries, an MWS authentication token, and an AWS access key ID.

Because a single customer might generate multiple records, Comparitech wasn’t able to estimate how many customers might be affected.

About half of the customers whose records were leaked are from the UK; as far as we can tell, most if not all of the rest are from elsewhere in Europe.

How did this happen?

According to Comparitech, the unnamed company involved was a third party conducting cross-border value-added tax (VAT) analysis.

That is, a company none of the affected customers would have heard of or have any relationship with:

This exposure exemplifies how, when handing over personal and payment details to a company online, that info often passes through the hands of various third parties contracted to process, organize, and analyze it. Rarely are such tasks handled solely in house.

Amazon queries could be used to query the MWS API, Comparitech said, potentially allowing an attacker to request records from sales databases. For that reason, it recommended that the companies involved should immediately change their passwords and keys.