Credentials stored in Ashley Madison's source code might have helped attackers

The company's developers were careless with sensitive credentials and secret keys, a security consultant found.

If you're a company that makes its own websites and applications, make sure your developers don't do what the Ashley Madison coders did: store sensitive credentials like database passwords, API secrets, authentication tokens or SSL private keys in source code repositories.

Judging by the massive amount of data leaked last month by Impact Team from AshleyMadison.com's owner Avid Life Media (ALM), the hackers gained extensive access to the Canadian company's IT infrastructure.

The ALM data dumps contained customer records and transaction details from the Ashley Madison infidelity website, but also the email database of the company's now-former CEO and the source code for the company's other online dating websites including CougarLife.com and EstablishedMen.com.

A London-based security consultant named Gabor Szathmari has now found evidence that ALM's developers were careless with sensitive credentials, which might have helped attackers once they gained a foothold on the company's network.

In the leaked ALM source code repositories Szathmari found hard-coded weak database passwords, API access credentials for a cloud-based storage bucket on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), Twitter OAuth tokens, secret tokens for other applications and private keys for SSL certificates.

"The end result of sensitive data stored in the source code repos is a much more vulnerable infrastructure," Szathmari said Monday in a blog post. "Database credentials, AWS tokens probably made the lateral movement easier for the Impact Team, leading to the full breach of Ashley."

Szathmari advises all companies to remove sensitive credentials from their source code or Wiki pages. Hard-coding such secrets makes it harder to later change them and potentially exposes them to unwanted people when the source code is committed to internal or external repositories.

The problem is so common that Amazon Web Services (AWS) issued a warning about it last year after thousands of AWS secret keys were found in public source code repositories hosted on GitHub.

Also last year, URL shortening service Bitly suffered a data breach after hackers used a compromised developer account to access the company's source code repository and steal credentials for its offsite database backup that were stored there.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?