IF YOU'RE EVER asked the population of Ecuador in a pub quiz, the answer is somewhere in the region of 17 million people. That number is quite awkward, as an enormous leak exposed by ZDNet and vpnMentor has uncovered a database with information on 20.8 million Ecuadorian citizens.
The reason for this discrepancy is twofold: duplicates and the deceased. Otherwise, if you live in Ecuador, then the chances are that you're on this list. The site was able to find records for Ecuadorian premier Lenin Moreno and even Julian Assange, who until recently called the country's UK embassy his home away from home.
More worryingly, it also contains the information of some 6.7 million children - some born as recently as spring. The data, spread across multiple Elasticsearch indexes, contain information such as names, addresses marital status, cedulas (national ID number), job information, phone numbers, education levels, family relationships, civil registration data, financial and work information and car ownership.
How much data is on each person varies depending on the data set: ZDNet found seven million financial records and 2.5 million car-centric ones. But this data is particularly worrying, given that it can be tied to a citizen's address giving burglars a map to the richest people and their cars.
How did all of this leak? It appears the data came from both government and private sources. The link seems to be an analytics firm called Novaestrat. On its website it claims that users can "make financial decisions with updated information of the entire Ecuadorian financial system."
The database was secured last week, but it wasn't as straightforward as you'd hope. Novaestrat has no email address or phone number listed, and the support forum was broken. In the end, vpnMentor only has success via Ecuador's Computer Emergency Response Team.
Of course, just fixing the leak doesn't mean the data isn't already in the wrong hands. Ecuadorian citizens may want to look out for suspicious emails, or even more suspicious people at their doors for the foreseeable future. µ
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