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J-Law Nudie Pics, Jeremiah, Privacy and Dropbox – An Epic FAIL of Mutual Distraction

September 2nd, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

onedoesnotFrom the “It can happen to anyone” department…

A couple of days ago, prior to the announcement that hundreds of celebrities’ nudie shots were liberated from their owners and posted to the Web, I customized some Growl notifications on my Mac to provide some additional realtime auditing of some apps I was interested in.  One of the applications I enabled was Dropbox synch messaging so I could monitor some sharing activity.

Ordinarily, these two events would not be related except I was also tracking down a local disk utilization issue that was vexing me as on a day-to-day basis as my local SSD storage would ephemerally increase/decrease by GIGABYTES and I couldn’t figure out why.

So this evening, quite literally as I was reading RSnake’s interesting blog post titled “So your nude selfies were just hacked,” a Growl notification popped up informing me that several new Dropbox files were completing synchronization.

Puzzled because I wasn’t aware of any public shares and/or remote folders I was synching, I checked the Dropbox synch status and saw a number of files that were unfamiliar — and yet the names of the files certainly piqued my interest…they appeared to belong to a very good friend of mine given their titles. o_O

I checked the folder these files were resting in — gigabytes of them — and realized it was a shared folder that I had setup 3 years ago to allow a friend of mine to share a video from one of our infamous Jiu Jitsu smackdown sessions from the RSA Security Conference.  I hadn’t bothered to unshare said folder for years, especially since my cloud storage quota kept increasing while my local storage didn’t.

As I put 1 and 1 together, I realized that for at least a couple of years, Jeremiah (Grossman) had been using this dropbox share folder titled “Dropit” as a repository for file storage, thinking it was HIS!

This is why gigs of storage was appearing/disappearing from my local storage when he added/removed files, but I didn’t  see the synch messages and thus didn’t see the filenames.

I jumped on Twitter and engaged Jer in a DM session (see below) where I was laughing so hard I was crying…he eventually called me and I walked him through what happened.

Once we came to terms of what had happened, how much fun I could have with this, Jer ultimately copied the files off the share and I unshared the Dropbox folder.

We agreed it was important to share this event because like previous issues each of us have had, we’re all about honest disclosure so we (and others) can learn from our mistakes.

The lessons learned?

  1. Dropbox doesn’t make it clear whether a folder that’s shared and mounted is yours or someone else’s — they look the same.
  2. Ensure you know where your data is synching to!  Services like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, SkyDrive, etc. make it VERY easy to forget where things are actually stored!
  3. Check your logs and/or enable things like Growl notifications (on the Mac) to ensure you can see when things are happening
  4. Unshare things when you’re done.  Audit these services regularly.
  5. Even seasoned security pros can make basic security/privacy mistakes; I shared a folder and didn’t audit it and Jer put stuff in a folder he thought was his.  It wasn’t.
  6. Never store nudie pics on a folder you don’t encrypt — and as far as I can tell, Jer didn’t…but I DIDN’T CLICK…HONEST!

Jer and I laughed our asses off, but imagine if this had been confidential information or embarrassing pictures and I wasn’t his friend.

If you use Dropbox or similar services, please pay attention.

I don’t want to see your junk.

/Hoff

P.S. Thanks for being a good sport, Jer.

P.P.S. I about died laughing sending these DMs:

Jer-Twitter

 

  1. Mike
    September 3rd, 2014 at 05:36 | #1

    Same thing happened to me a few years back. I had shared a dropbox folder with a team and forgot to close it. I noticed that there were files being synced to it and checked and there were several files that had names that indicated documents I shouldn’t see (I didn’t peek). I contacted the person who had synced them several times over a few weeks telling them they were using my dropbox and that I had access to their shit and would they please remove them. They didn’t.

    We had a team meeting in a few days, so I copied the files to my local drive and zipped them up and then closed the share and deleted the files.

    At the meeting, the “victim” was complaining that he lost all that work and that “bad things were going let that go on for a bit and then asked him if those were the files that were in Dropbox. He said yes and I tossed him a USB drive with the archive on it. He was pissed but hopefully learned a valuable lesson on Dropbox and responding to repeated requests for action.

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