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Dropbox security fubar infuriates customers

Code update calamity compounded by closed mouth

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Storage and file-sharing vendor Dropbox made a huge cock-up during last weekend's upgrade leaving all of its user accounts unlocked.

Encryption is not performed by the cloud provider's client, meaning that all customer information was there for the taking on Sunday between 1.54pm and 5.46pm. Dropbox issued no official comment until yesterday, causing anger among users.

Founder and CTO Arash Ferdowsi confirmed a code update allowed a bug to enter the system to affect its authentication mechanism meaning users did not need passwords to log onto each other's accounts.

"A very small number of users (much less than one per cent) logged in during that period, some of whom could have logged into an account without the correct password. As a precaution, we ended all logged in sessions."

This is understood to equate to up to 250,000 users, among them some irate individuals who vented their spleen on the Dropbox forum at the weekend, threatening to move to a new provider and complaining about the vendor's lack of communication.

Ferdowsi said the firm was investigating whether any accounts were accessed and tampered with and vowed to "immediately notify the account owner" if it unearthed any unusual activity.

"This should never have happened. We are scrutinising our controls and we will be implementing additional safeguards to prevent this from happening again… regardless of how many people were ultimately affected, any exposure at all is unacceptable to us." ®

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