Popular Indian mobile payments service MobiKwik on Monday came under fire after 8.2 terabytes (TB) of data belonging to millions of its users began circulating on the dark web in the aftermath of a major data breach that came to light earlier this month.
The leaked data includes sensitive personal information such as:
- customer names,
- hashed passwords,
- email addresses,
- residential addresses,
- GPS locations,
- list of installed apps,
- partially-masked credit card numbers,
- connected bank accounts and associated account numbers, and
- know your customer (KYC) documents of 3.5 million users.
Even worse, the leak also shows that MobiKwik does not delete the card information from its servers even after a user has removed them, in what's likely a breach of government regulations.
New guidelines issued by India's apex banking institution, the Reserve Bank of India, prohibit online merchants, e-commerce websites, and payment aggregators from storing card details of a customer online. The rules are set to come into effect starting July 2021.
As of July 2020, MobiKwik serves 120 million users and 3 million retailers across the country.
The data leak site, which is accessible via Tor browser and boasts of 36,099,759 records, came online after the digital wallet company vehemently denied the incident on March 4 following a report by an independent security researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia.
"A media-crazed so-called security researcher has repeatedly over the last week presented concocted files wasting precious time of our organization while desperately trying to grab media attention," MobiKwik tweeted. "We thoroughly investigated his allegations and did not find any security lapses. The various sample text files that he has been showcasing prove nothing. Anyone can create such text files to falsely harass any company."
However, multiple users have confirmed to the contrary, finding their personal details in the "MobiKwik India data leak" site, lending credence to the breach.
"Never *ever* behave like @MobiKwik has in this thread from 25 days ago," Troy Hunt, security researcher and creator of breach notification tool Have I Been Pwned, said in a tweet, calling out MobiKwik's handling of the situation.
According to sources close to the incident, the compromise was originally advertised in a database leaking forum on February 24, with a hacker claiming access to 6TB data from an unnamed Paytm competitor.
Interestingly, it appears that after Rajaharia disclosed the leak, outed the company's identity, and warned MobiKwik over email, the firm simultaneously took measures to stop the hacker from downloading the data.
"We [...] lost access to main company servers, not surprising though... Cant download anything new," the hacker said in a forum post a day later, adding that the partially downloaded data might have been corrupted.
"We never wanted any money anyway, so not sad. But one of the biggest hacks of KYC ever shit!!! OR SO WE THOUGHT. :( So, I guess I grow old saying I used to hack and shit. Rather than actually hacking and shit. Exciting 1 month though!!!," the hacker said, implying that the breach dated back to January, echoing Rajaharia's tweets from March 4.
But a month later, in a separate listing on March 27, the hacker claimed, "we recovered all data and it's up for sale," offering up what is alleged to be 8TB of their data for 1.5 bitcoins ($85,684.65).
However, in an interesting turn of events, plans to put the data on sale appear to have been suspended until further notice. "Only sell this to company after due verification that we are dealing with company," the hacker said in an update, suggesting an extortion scheme.
It's not immediately clear how the threat actor managed to gain unauthorized access to MobiKwik's servers, but the hacker said, "it'll be embarrassing for the company. story for someother time.." (sic)
When reached for a response, a MobiKwik spokesperson downplayed the breach, stating that the data shared on the dark web site hasn't been retrieved from its own servers. The company also said it's working with relevant authorities to carry out a security audit of its platform.
"Some users have reported that their data is visible on the dark web. While we are investigating this, it is entirely possible that any user could have uploaded her/his information on multiple platforms. Hence, it is incorrect to suggest that the data available on the dark web has been accessed from MobiKwik or any identified source."
"As a regulated entity, the company takes its data security very seriously and is fully compliant with applicable data security laws. The company is subjected to stringent compliance measures under its PCI-DSS and ISO Certifications, which includes annual security audits and quarterly penetration tests to ensure security of its platform. As soon this matter was reported, the company undertook a thorough investigation with the help of external security experts and did not find any evidence of a breach. The company is closely working with requisite authorities on this matter, and considering the seriousness of the allegations will get a third party to conduct a forensic data security audit. For its users, the company reiterates that all MobiKwik accounts and balances are completely safe."