Another day, another password-protected database gets exposed. Cybersecurity researcher Jeremiah Fowler has discovered a massive database containing the real estate ownership data of millions of people online.
According to his report, the non-password protected database belonged to a company named Real Estate Wealth Network. It held over 1.5 billion records (a total size of 1.16 TB) allegedly linked to real estate owners including celebrities, politicians, and even Fowler’s own personal information.
Among the publicly available data, Fowler discovered folders organized by property history, motivated sellers, bankruptcy, divorce, tax liens, foreclosure, homeowner association (HOA) liens, inheritance, court judgments, obituary (death), vacant properties, and more.
“The folders contained information on property owners, sellers, investors, and what appeared to be internal user logging data that included name, physical address, phone number, provider, and what was downloaded from the database,” the researcher explained.
“The database also contained daily logging records from 4/22/23 through 10/23/23, which showed internal user search data,” he added. “The records I saw included the user’s name, phone number, email, device information, and what files the user accessed.”
Fowler said he immediately sent a responsible disclosure notice that immediately prompted the company to secure the database.
While perusing the database, the researcher found personally identifiable information of celebrities and political figures including Britney Spears, Kylie Jenner, Floyd Mayweather, Dave Chappelle, Elon Musk & Associates LLC, Dolly Parton, Mark Wahlberg, Nancy Pelosi and many more.
The records included their home address, purchase price and date, mortgage company, mortgage loan amount and tax ID numbers, among others.
The researcher said “it is unknown for how long the data was publicly exposed” or whether malicious actors had accessed the unprotected database before it was secured, but he highlighted the privacy and security risks for exposed individuals, including harassment and property or mortgage fraud.
“The exposure of celebrities' home addresses online could pose potential risks such as threats to their personal safety or an invasion of their privacy,” Fowler added. “Famous people and politicians could face potential stalking or harassment by fans or even individuals with malicious intent.”
Another growing risk is property and mortgage fraud. In a 2022 report, the FBI said 11,578 cases of real estate fraud caused $350 million in losses in just one year, which means the number of real estate fraud cases has increased an estimated 20% since 2017. Property fraud is a multistep scam that first involves stealing a homeowner’s identity and then forging ownership documents.
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