40+ Apps Leaking AWS Keys

  • By Dawna M. Roberts
  • May 12, 2021

CloudSEC security intelligence created a tool called BeVigil which identified 40+ apps with more than 100 million installs that were found to be leaking AWS keys all over the place. 

How Did This Happen?

AWS Keys Leak

The Hacker News reported this week that cybersecurity company CloudSEC identified 40+ apps with hardcoded Amazon Web Services (AWS) keys in them using their recently created BeVigil platform. The tool is designed to help users investigate apps before they install them. BeVigil checks security ratings and other findings and notifies users with a warning if they are found to be insecure.

Some of the apps that were found to have leaky AWS keys were:

BeVigil’s search engine tested more than 10,000 apps for security vulnerabilities. 

CloudSEC said:

“AWS keys hardcoded in a mobile app source code can be a huge problem, especially if its [Identity and Access Management] role has wide scope and permissions. The possibilities for misuse are endless here since the attacks can be chained, and the attacker can gain further access to the whole infrastructure, even the code base, and configurations.”

CloudSEC did notify Amazon Web Services and other vendors that their apps were leaking AWS keys with possible hacking repercussions. 

The Larger Issue

A Bengaluru cybersecurity company analyzed one of the apps finding that the AWS keys led to the access of multiple other AWS services such as credentials for S3 storage buckets, files, and data. One such example led to 88 buckets, 10,073,444 files, and data totaling 5.5 TB. Researchers also found backups, source code, configuration files, test artifacts, and user databases along with these items.

The potential for misuse and exploitation here is huge. Many of the major data breaches to date have begun with a misconfigured or vulnerable AWS S3 bucket containing private data. Some examples are cybersecurity firm Imperva whose migrated customer database was misconfigured and suffered an attack in 2019. This year, trading and stock exchange Upstox was hacked by a group named ShinyHunters that accessed its AWS S3 storage buckets (that were misconfigured).

CTO of BeVigil, Shahrukh Ahmad commented that “Hardcoded API keys are like locking your house but leaving the key in an envelope labeled ‘Do not open.’” These keys could easily be discovered by malicious hackers or competitors who could use them to compromise their data and networks.”

What is BeVigil?

According to The Hacker News, “BeVigil is a mobile security search engine that allows researchers to search app metadata, review their code, view security reports and Risk Scores, and even scan new APKs.”

Users want to be assured that the mobile apps they use are safe and won’t expose their data to strangers. 

Threat researchers can use the tool to search for code snippets (from known malware) and keywords to examine apps deeper, looking for any vulnerabilities before they download and use them on their device.

The Hacker News lists how you can use the tool to find a list of apps: 

  • “From an organization,

  • above or below a certain security score; e.g., credit apps with security score 7,

  • released within a certain time period (select “from” and “to” dates); e.g., identify credit apps released in 2021,

  • from 48 different categories such as finance, education, tools, health & fitness, etc.,

  • from a specific developer by searching with the developer email address,

  • developed in a specific country by searching; for example, identify banking apps from Germany,

  • developed in a specific location by searching with the pin code or developer email address,

  • that record audio in the background,

  • that record location in the background,

  • that can access the camera device,

  • that can access specific permission on your device,

  • with a specific target SDK version.”

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