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Careless Tata staffer accidentally leaks troves of banking data to GitHub


June 12, 2017

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Careless Tata staffer accidentally leaks troves of banking data to GitHub

A developer working with Tata Consulting Services in Kolkata, India has leaked troves of internal documents to GitHub, the web-based version control repository and Internet hosting service. Financial institutions whose files were leaked had mixed responses, with some ignoring the notice that their internal files were out in the open for competitors or hackers to use.

Jason Coulls, who used to work as a banking software developer and now is an executive with food safety company Tellspec, reportedly discovered the leak after the files were “inadvertently” leaked by a Tata employee, according to The Register. The contents of the archive he stumbled upon included raw source code, development notes, internal reports on banking development plans and even telephone records.

“The good news is that none of it was banking customers’ data, it was mainly auxiliary data,” Coulls told the publication last week. “But there was still a lot of useful stuff there – not just for hackers but for the firm’s competitors. The first bank that gets in to look at it gets to see what everyone else is doing. There was a monumental common sense failure.”

In reporting his find to the affected banks and financial firms, the CTO was admittedly not surprised that U.S. companies were orders of magnitude more responsive than their Canadian counterparts. Coulls is Britain-born but now lives and works out of Toronto, Canada. Canadian banks were very unresponsive to the news that their internal files were leaked online for everyone to access.

He went on to say that, at this moment, around 1 million Scotiabank customers carry a vulnerable app in their pocket that uses the Enstream framework which only uses HTTP, not HTTPS to talk to Bell Canada. Also referred to as HTTP over Transport Layer Security (TLS) or HTTP Secure, HTTPS is the safer communications protocol of the two. The tech executive believes “it’s only a matter of time before there’s a massive issue” with Scotiabank’s service.

Data leaks have been common in recent years, with either careless employees or bad actors carrying out the dumps in places like the Dark Web, PasteBin, and Wikilleaks. By contrast, GitHub is an unusual place for someone to happen upon a critical leak.

Update: We’ve included a correction about the ScotiaBank HTTP issue at Jason Coulls’ suggestion.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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