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Back in February, well over 90 days ago, I reported a vulnerability to a service that is leaking highly sensitive data, such as passport id, full name, date of birth and medical data. After that I have sent a few more reminders about the leakage, but it still hasn't been fixed. What are the best next steps I can take to get this fixed?

I'm aware of responsible disclosure and have found this question which seems similar. But I believe this situation is somewhat different because of the following reasons:

  • The data that is being leaked is highly sensitive, and very easy to find. Once I disclose the vulnerability publicly, the medical data from a couple million users is up for grabs.
  • The data seems to come from mostly underdeveloped countries, contacting a data protection authority doesn't seem like an option since the data doesn't come from citizens from a single country.
  • Considering how simple the exploit is, and how long this has been an issue, I'm not convinced disclosing the vulnerability publicly will make them fix it. The responses I got from them aren't too promising either.

The offending service is acting as a third party for several smaller companies. So this service is leaking the data on behalf of these smaller companies. One thing I can think of is to contact these smaller companies instead. But to be honest, they don't seem to care much about the data of their users either. So if anyone has any better ideas that'd be much appreciated.

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  • Did you give them an embargo period?
    – forest
    Jul 28 at 23:57
  • In which country or state is the offending service hosted? Which company is hosting it's web service? You can use "whois" to get this information.
    – A. Hersean
    Jul 29 at 7:58
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    @A.Hersean it seems to be hosted by Hetzner, so contacting them might also be an option. Though I expect that will simply result in them switching to another hosting provider. I have already contacted the Brazilian, Mexican and Egyptian data protection authorities, since documents seem to mostly be from citizens from those countries. But who knows if they'll respond. Jul 29 at 9:28
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    Another easy option for you would be to send the information about this incident to a trustable press company. Some have introduced portals for sending them info on security breaches optionally anonymously. For Germany Heise publishing (home of Europe's largest IT journal) would be a good candidate which can handle security incidents in a responsible way. heise.de/investigativ
    – Robert
    Jul 29 at 16:58
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    Even if their website only points to a renting place, that may mean the company is incorporated in the UK. You may try reporting it to UK NCSC or the ICO
    – Ángel
    Aug 2 at 0:47

1 Answer 1

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As the data is highly sensitive, I recommend informing the data protection authorities in the largest affected countries (where possible) immediately. The users have to know about the incident. That's why you may also work together with large to the userbase relevant reputable media. It could get you some more attention having a journalist writing them. In return for creating a solid contact with the developers, they may write about it after the problem is resolved.

Make your intent clear throughout the entire process. You don't want to blackmail the company, you want to get this fixed as soon as possible.

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