Sensitive data of 2.25 million Russians exposed online

Passport information of senior officials are publicly accessible after a researcher identifies leaky government sites

A computer with data overlaid onto the Russian flag

More than 2.25 million Russian citizens' personal details have been exposed online through misconfigured government websites, including the passport information of high-profile Russian government officials.

An examination of a swathe of government platforms has found 23 sites leaking citizens' insurance account numbers and 14 sites leaking passport information, according to Ivan Begtin, co-founder of NGO Information Culture.

The researcher disclosed his findings to Russian media in a set of three articles, with the latest released this week in RBC revealing around 360,000 records were exposed. The details exposed includes the passport details and personal information of former Russian deputy prime ministers Anatoly Chubais and Arkady Dvorkovich.

This is in addition to an article Begtin published last month revealing that 2.25 million records are publicly available from the websites of certification centres. In his findings, he outlined information for several exposed systems including those for arbitration courts and the Ministry of Defence, rating the criticality as 'high' for all.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Begtin summarised his wider findings in a Facebook post, adding that he notified Russian authorities several times as early as eight months ago. But the Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications agency, "did not react".

He blamed errors in legislation, miscalculations by developers and shoddy work by data regulators as the core reasons why such a vast amount of information has been exposed by these government sites.

Begtin also cited a lack of professionalism with the IT developers who have built the sites, and are responsible for their maintenance.

Russia has not adopted the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), rather its data regulators lean on a set of several data protection laws dating back to the previous decade, such as the Russian Personal Data Law 152-FZ of 2006.

The Russian communications agency responded to Begtin's findings shortly after he released his post, suggesting the data may have been intentionally made public and that there are no violations of data protection laws.

"An analysis of the situation has shown that such publication of personal data falls under the legal grounds provided for by article 6 of the Federal Law 'On Personal Data'," a Roskomnadzor spokesperson said.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"In particular, there are cases when personal data are subject to publication or mandatory disclosure to an unlimited number of persons for the implementation and fulfilment of the functions, powers and duties assigned by the Russian legislation to the operator."

The agency claimed the information published on the Ministry of Justice's website did not contain passport data.

Begtin's research highlights the importance of digital transformation, particularly in large public sector organisations where systems can date back as far as 30 years. Robust systems and practices can, in particular, prevent data leakages where sensitive information is concerned.

In the UK, the government was warned earlier this year that it must focus on replacing legacy IT or face risks of hanging onto outdated systems.

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/354577/data-protection-fines-hit-ps100m
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Data protection fines hit £100m during first 18 months of GDPR

20 Jan 2020