Connect with us

Tech News

DocuSign users’ info viewable, company says no security breach

Developing story: DocuSign is the world’s largest electronic signature platform and it appears that emails and names of signers are visible to the public. AGBeat Exclusive

Published

on

DocuSign user information found through Google search

As the world’s largest electronic signature platform, DocuSign says that they have over 6 million unique signers processing millions of transactions per year and that they are “trusted by more people, more companies, more times than any other electronic signature provider in the world.”

In just one search query in particular, we uncovered 4,450 URLs filled with DocuSign customer names, emails, document names, and GPS coordinates of where documents were signed. These details are found on websites with URL structures appearing like the one below (which is not a functional link that takes you to a signed document, just an example):

[ba-quote]https://www.docusign.net/Member/DocuSignTrust.aspx[/ba-quote]

DocuSign tells AGBeat that while the documents appear to be hosted on their secure https servers, “They are not. Anything that is found via Google search is not from DocuSign’s secure site, but rather the publicly accessible and searchable locations where customers have saved their personal copies of signed documents. In order to access documents, data, or transactions on the DocuSign Global Network, you must have the login credentials and password.”

We do not yet know the full scope of the number of transaction details that can be seen via Google, but we can see that they go as far back as at least January in our preliminary investigation. We have not made public how to discover these documents due to security risks, but suffice it to say that we can see the private emails, signatures, times, dates, locations, and document names (hypothetically speaking, we can see “Listing on 201 Main Street” or “Employment Contract – $58k/yr” as document names).

On the heels of a hacker leaking LinkedIn and eHarmony passwords, the leaking of personal information and potential details of legal documents that are meant to be private, is a major problem for several industries and feeds the hysteria behind cloud based storage and digital data sharing.

The company tells AG that “While DocuSign encourages customers to save their signed documents on the secure DocuSign Global Network, we are also required by law to offer customers the ability to download and retain their own personal copies,” adding that “it appears that a very small number of DocuSign users have saved their own personal copies of their signed documents to publicly accessible and searchable locations outside of the secure DocuSign Global Network. In the event that customers need to save signed documents in a location outside of DocuSign, we encourage that they ensure the location meets the security requirements of all signing parties.”

DocuSign asserts their “commitment to security” as outlined on their website. DocuSign is the official and exclusive provider of electronic signature for the National Association of Realtors’ nearly one million members, under the REALTOR Benefits Program, and is used by many industries, including users like American Airlines, LinkedIn, Sony, and Yamaha.

After publication, all links formerly discovered through a Google search appear to no longer be clickable, but can still be viewed through the Google cache, as seen in the before and after below.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. abodograph

    June 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Nice work breaking the story!

  2. jonbenya

    June 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Wow, so glad I’m not on Docusign! 

  3. Market Leader

    June 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Definitely something to be aware of. Thanks for sharing!

  4. MatthewCohen

    June 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I can see what you guys mean – but ask yourselves if the information disclosed is truly PII as defined in any state, or simply *might* be undesirable to have disclosed.

    • franklyrealty

      June 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm

       @MatthewCohen I had to google PII. I got this:
      Personally Identifiable Information (PII), as used in information security, is information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person or can be used with other sources to uniquely identify a single individual.
       
      I would think that a private email address and private name with information that they signed an “offer to purchase 555 Oak” as being VERY personal information that can “uniquely identify” a person. And as for “locate a single person” it actually has the GPS coordinates of where the person signed. Is that PII enough?
       
       

      • MatthewCohen

        June 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm

         @franklyrealty  – Again, I see what they mean – there is significance and some sensitivity, but read further into any state’s definition of PII and when it rises to the level of significance that must be disclosed it is almost always a first initial or first name and last name plus one or more of the following (1) Social security number. (2) Driver’s license number or State ID number. (3) Account number, credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account. In some states the account number alone is sufficient, without the password.

        • franklyrealty

          June 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

           @MatthewCohen Got it. No passwords here. Would showing the full contract be PII in your opinion? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was up there as well. I will look.

        • jonbenya

          June 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

           @franklyrealty  @MatthewCohen Showing the full contract would certainly be PII, IMHO.  consider if the contract exposed was a cash offer with bank statement proof of funds, or copies of drivers licenses in the file.  Also, a check copy with acct and routing numbers?  That would make for a SERIOUS breach.

        • franklyrealty

          June 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

           @jonbenya  @MatthewCohen I just found one saying “Final Offer 555 OAK.pdf” (I changed the address). I would think this is very private information. I wouldn’t want other buyers knowing that I was offering on a house. Yes it could interfere with the deal.

        • jonbenya

          June 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

           @franklyrealty What about the unique signature block and ID number below?  Can that be used fraudulently?

        • MatthewCohen

          June 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

           @jonbenya  @franklyrealty The whole file would DEFINITELY be a serious breach!

        • franklyrealty

          June 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

           @jonbenya Well the signature is usually not a real client wet signature in the sense that it wasn’t done with a pen (I think). And I don’t think that ID# can be used for anything useful to a hacker. 
           

  5. Missy Caulk

    June 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Dang what is going on? I hate to hear this. Wonder why they have not notified us? 

    • franklyrealty

      June 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

       @Missy Caulk Because they don’t know. It has probably been on there for many months.

  6. DanTroup

    June 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    While I think this is a good find, I don’t think it has the same weight as other breaches.  If you could actually access the documents then I would say it was huge.  Just names and email isn’t something I would stop using them for.  If you found this on your own then I feel you should have brought it to DocuSign in private and allowed them to fix it.  Once it was fixed, then publish your story. 
     
    Just because the pages were on https doesn’t mean they can’t be public. https is a protocal not a URL structure.  https can be used for public or private websites where you want the data transfering between the user and web server to be secure.  How that data is published on the server has nothing to do with https.

    • franklyrealty

      June 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      @DanTroup
      Reagrding HTTPs, Yes, I think the point is, it is funny when companies use “httpS” in part to seem more secure. But it isn’t so secure if you just let Google index it.
       
      So you would rather AG hold onto the information for a few days, while more customers expose themselves, vs telling Docusign first to try and fix it? Fix it how? It isn’t like Docusign can immediately remove the information from Google and Google Cache.
       
      Sure they didn’t leak the full contract. Well, as far as we know. Maybe they did. But leaking unpublished private email addresses and any details of a private contract is horrible. We have to trust these companies. I just found a colleague of mine. I bet she will NOT be happy that THREE of her transaction details (not the contract itself) are on Google. Three over 6 months.
       

    • franklyrealty

      June 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      @DanTroup
      Regarding HTTPs, Yes. I think the point is, it is funny when companies use “httpS” in part to seem more secure. But it isn’t so secure if you just let Google index it.
       
      So you would rather AG hold onto the information for a few days, while more customers expose themselves, vs telling Docusign first to try and fix it? Fix it how? It isn’t like Docusign can immediately remove the information from Google and Google Cache.
       
      Sure they didn’t leak the full contract. Well, as far as we know. Maybe they did. But leaking unpublished private email addresses and any details of a private contract is horrible. We have to trust these companies. I just found a colleague of mine. I bet she will NOT be happy that THREE of her transaction details (not the contract itself) are on Google. Three over 6 months.
       

  7. Merge

    June 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    They should really be using a hash or id. It’s extra work to put the name in the url. I would be interested in hearing why they chose to do that.
     
    I’m even MORE interested in why they allow indexing of those pages. It takes seconds to throw a robots.txt file up and keep search engines from seeing/indexing the pages.

  8. joannasmitherton

    June 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Hi folks:
     
    AGBeat is trying to sell a story when there is no story.  This is about people storing documents in public – OUTSIDE the DocuSign service.  DON’T DO THAT.  Many agents have been using public sharing folders to get documents back and forth to customers using tools that are not designed to protect them.  THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.
     
    It has nothing to do with DocuSign security.  
     
    Biggest lesson – DON’T store documents outside DocuSign. If you do, make sure it is a secure location, or you will put your customer’s information at risk.  (Not only the info about who signed, BUT THE DOCUMENTS ALSO)..
     

  9. franklyrealty

    June 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I told my agents to stop using Docusign until the matter was resolved. 
     
    It appears that they found a solution to a problem they still deny existed. Now, moving forward, these private URLs will be blocked from Google via a firewall. That is great for the FUTURE, but still does not fix the approximately 10,000 users that were already indexed and still in Google’s Cache.
     
    I demand that Docusign fess up (like Tylenol does when they mess up, albeit to a worse extent) and email ALL users about this glitch or at least email the 10,000 people that likely are NOT aware that their data was released to the public for Google. 
     
    How can we trust them if they just Deny Deny Deny. Remind me of a Chris Rock video: https://youtu.be/I28rarDdaCY?t=2m20s
     
    One agent that was on there 3 times said she called Docusign and their response was “they have a team of people working on it and they know it’s a huge problem.” If it wasn’t a mistake, the answer should have been “yeah, you must have made it public, your fault not ours.”
     
    It doesn’t matter how many ISO 9000s you have and 1, 2 3 parties that supposedly test your system, when you leave the front door open. I can have Brink’s Security on my house, but who cares if the door is left open.
     
    Want to know if you are in there?
     
    Here is how:
     
    Google:
    site:https://docusign.net  “YOUREMAIL@YOURDomain.com”           (with quotes)
    or
    site:https://docusign.net  company name
     
    and see what you find. And make sure you click on the CACHED version.
     
    I just did a search and found a second friend of mine on there… they will not be happy. 2 so far.
     
    I also found a few lawyers that have their info online. Asking them if they were stupid enough to have pressed some button to make it public. I really doubt it. And if they think it was stupid for Docusign to even allow that to happen (part of what they need to protect against is user error).
     
    Frank

  10. ArnCenedella

    June 8, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I like the docusign product and if there is a problem, I believe they will fix it.
    Name and email address “breach” is a problem but it is not the end of the world. And I do believe it is possible, docusign users thru their own actions made the this data available.
    It is also good reminder to us all that any data or info transferred over the Internet may not truly be safe.
    I don’t think names and emails being “hacked” is a big deal.
    I would think most folks who are on-line have emails addresses posted on the web already, right? Lots of folks are on line for either social or business reasons want their contact info posted and they want people to be able to contact them.
    Property ow nerd hip records are public records and easily accessible.

    • franklyrealty

      June 8, 2012 at 1:16 am

       @ArnCenedella Correct. Not the end of the world.
       
      You tell me. If you sent a Docusign to a client. To offer on a house. A bidding war lets say. And he comes to you and says “why is it that some/any details from our confidential contract ‘Offer on 555 Oak Street’ are posted on Google for all to see? Also it has my private email address and the GPS coordinates for my home where I signed, I am not happy.”
       
      Are you going to tell them “Dear Sir, it is not the end of the world, get over it.”? I doubt that. 
       
      And no. Due to MASSIVE spam problems, I never post my email address ANYWHERE. So I would be very pissed if Docusign posted it online for spammers to have access to them. And yes there are web crawlers just out there looking to cultivate new email addresses to spam. 
       
      Yes they did change their system. They have yet to admit to fault or notify people that some/any of their data is online.
       
      The worst part is this is just what was found. It begs one to ask what else is out there and Docusign hasn’t disclosed.

      • BenspBenfb

        August 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm

         @franklyrealty  @ArnCenedella Yes, blaming their customers seems suspicious because there were so many. And then they managed to “fix” it and get Google to remove the links, something hard to do if the data being indexed wasn’t their own.

  11. franklyrealty

    June 8, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Any Docusign competitors out there?
     
    Anybody willing to chime in? Would your system EVERY allow your customer’s data (even if it is just an email, GPS location and contract name)  to be accessible via Google, while still hosted on your URL?
     
    If not, what steps do you do to prevent this?

    • franklyrealty

      June 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Really disappointed that the Docusign competitors haven’t had the guts to come forward and state whether or not they had the same issue.

      • BenspBenfb

        August 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

         @franklyrealty Well, it’s impossible to prevent your customers for disclosing their confidential information (purposely or accidentally). If they posted docs that contained the unique links (how did Google get those links anyway…there are so many instances it seems unlikely it was random users doing this).  Of course, most sites would have a simple robots.txt that would keep Google (being honest right?) from indexing such a site. Otherwise, the link needs to be protected, but often the “protection” is just a unique link sent in an email that you expect only the owners to have and not have them submit it to Google for indexing.  I wonder if that’s what really happened, Google indexing customer’s email?  I’ve not heard of anybody else suffering this, though, so I still suspect it was DocuSign’s fault and not their customers who did something odd like post their unique links somewhere Google could index it.

  12. AgentGenius

    June 8, 2012 at 1:38 am

    please see story updates, docusign explains how it’s not a security breach

  13. DanTroup

    June 8, 2012 at 7:42 am

    @AGBeat, what made you think this was a security breach?  You had evidence of someone breaking into DocuSign and stealing information?  This is what a breach is.  There is a huge difference between your story and other breaches in the news.  Please don’t confuse the two.  If someone wants to steal your car they have to break the window and hot wire the ignition. This is a great example of a breach.  What you found, was data that was willing exposed.  This is not a breach.
     
    Anytime you find a security flaw your first step is to contact the company.  Notifying the public first is just doing more damage.  You draw attention to something where you don’t have control.  For those that are thanking AGBeat, how are you fixing the issue?  Are you calling all your clients letting them know? Are you removing their information from showing?  You’re probably notifying them, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to resolve the issue.  If there was something you could do to fix this issue then publishing the story would have been great.  They could have included instructions for fixing the issue and you would have looked like a hero.
     

  14. Merge

    June 8, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Dear Docusign & Docusign Developers,

    Life might suck right now, but things will get better.

    Hope this helps.

    https://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1663660

    I am a Sr. Developer, willing to chat/help just because I know what its like to be in a tough spot. No charge. If you ever need me just send a quick email to Joel (attt) MergeApp.com

  15. nartech

    June 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    This is a good opportunity for me to make a pitch for the importance of privacy and data security in all contexts. (i.e. not just when using Docusign.)  NAR has produced a data security and privacy toolkit to help you think about how you handle sensitive customer data. You can find it by following this link https://www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/1010datasecurityprivacytoolkit?OpenDocument&Login
    You must be a member of NAR and give your NRDS number to access the document.

  16. unhacker

    July 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Okay first off, yes as many have noted, this is not a “breach” as the term is generally used in Infosec.  This is certainly a risk, but is probably best characterized as ‘disclosure’.
     
    Most importantly, though, this information /was/ in fact retrieved from (or via) DocuSign’s own servers – if you doubt that, simply recognize that it was a change on DocuSign’s part that has closed this exposure.  That’s because they (probably) have restricted Google from indexing that content.  And that is what they should have done From Day One, Already.
     
    This isn’t a breach: It’s evidence of a weak or lax back-end security posture, or procedures.

    • BenspBenfb

      August 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm

       @unhacker Technically this is correct, but allowing confidential pages to be accessible is bad form, and they did put a fix in to resolve it, showing that it was an error that could be fixed easily.

  17. Ronie Walter @ IT Staffing Agencies

    July 29, 2012 at 8:35 am

    DocuSign moves the process of getting important documents signed completely online. Its tagging system shows the recipient what to do, and it offers a full court-accepted audit trail of the process. It’s a great choice for electronic signing of documents.

  18. Pingback: Despite DocuSign promises, they couldn't avoid the inevitable - The American Genius

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech News

AI technology is using facial recognition to hire the “right” people

(TECH NEWS) Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

Published

on

AI technology facial recognition

Artificial intelligence technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

A UK based consumer goods giant, Unilever, is just one of several UK companies who have begun using AI technology to sort through initial job candidates. The goal of this technology is to increase the number of candidates whom a company can interview at the initial stages of the hiring process and to improve response time for those candidates.

The AI, developed by American company Hirevue, analyzes a candidate’s language, tone, and facial expression during a video interview. Hirevue insists that their product is different from traditional facial recognition technologies because it analyzes far more data points.

Hirevue’s chief technology officer, Loren Larsen, says, “We get about 25,000 data points from 15 minutes of video per candidate. The text, the audio and the video come together to give us a very clear analysis and rich data set of how someone is responding, the emotions and cognitions they go through.”
This data is then used to rank candidates on a scale of 1 to 100 against a database of traits identified in previously successful candidates.

There are two main flaws to this system. First, unless this AI technology is pulling from a huge diverse data pool it could be unintentionally discriminating against people without even being aware of it. Human bias is not as easy to remove from the equation as AI proponents would have you believe.

As an example, how does this AI handle people who are disabled or whose facial expressions that read differently than the general population, such as people with Down Syndrome or those who have survived traumatic facial injuries?

Second, seeking to hire someone who possess the same qualities as the person who was previously successful at a role is shortsighted. There are many ways to accomplish the same task with above average results. Companies who adopt this low-risk mentality could be missing out on great opportunities long-term. You will never know what actually works best if you don’t try.

The big question here is whether or not AI technology is ready to influence the job market on this scale.

Continue Reading

Tech News

The ‘move fast and break things’ trend is finally over

(TECH NEWS) Time is running out for this decade — and for a popular Big Tech phrase responsible for a lot of collateral damage. What’s next?

Published

on

big tech move fast break stuff

Time is running out for the decade. With less than 20 days left, it’s got us reflecting on the journeys of different economic sectors in the United States. And no industry has had a more tumultuous time of it than Big Tech.

A lot has changed in ten years. For starters, Americans have become increasingly disillusioned with Silicon Valley. The Pew Research Center found that only 50 percent of Americans believe technology firms have a positive effect on the country. That statistic is not too bad on its own, but that’s down 21 percent from only four years ago. Gallup found in 2019 that 48 percent of Americans also want more regulations on Big Tech. And The New York Times called the 2010s as “the decade Big Tech lost its way”.

Maybe that’s why big wigs at these tech firms have been quietly ditching a concept that was their Golden Rule in the early part of the decade: Move Fast and Break Things.

This concept is a modern take on the adage “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” For most of these firms, any innovation justified some of the collateral damage within its wake. And this scrappy “build it now and worry about it later” philosophy was a favorite of not just Facebook and Twitter, but also of many venture capital firms too.

But not anymore. Outlets from Forbes to HBR are saying this doesn’t work for Big Tech in the 2020s. Here are some reasons why it’s over.

Stability

The Move Fast and Break Things manta encouraged devs to push their coding changes to go live and let the chips fall where they may. But bugs pile up. Enter technical debt.

“Technical debt happens every time you do things that might get you closer to your goal now but create problems that you’ll have to fix later,” said The Quantified VC in an article on Medium. “As you move fast and break things, you will certainly accumulate technical debt.”

If enough technical debt comes into play, any new line of code could be the thing that topples a firm like a house of cards. And now that the consumer is used to tech in their daily routines, interruptions in service are extremely bad news for everyone.

As Mark Zuckerburg himself said it: “When you build something that you don’t have to fix 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built.”

Trust

To get back some of the trust that has ebbed from Big Tech over the years, firms can’t just keep with the Move Fast and Break Things status quo.

“The public will continue to grow weary of perceived abuses by tech companies, and will favor businesses that address economic, social, and environmental problems,” said Hemant Taneja in his article for Harvard Business Review. “Minimum viable products must be replaced by minimum virtuous products that … build in guards against potential harms.”

It’s not about chasing the bottom dollar at the cost of the consumer. Losing trust will hurt any company if left unchecked for long.

Innovation

There’s a cap on advancement in our current technological state. It’s called Moore’s Law. And we’re rapidly approaching the theoretical limits of it.

“When you understand the fundamental technology that underlies a product or service, you can move quickly, trying out nearly endless permutations until you arrive at an optimized solution. That’s often far more effective than a more planned, deliberate approach,” said Greg Satell in his article for HBR.

Soon enough, Big Tech will be in relatively new waters with quantum computing, biofeedback and AI. There’s no way to move as fast as these technology firms have in the past. And even if they could, should they?

Big Tech has experienced major growing pains since the dawn of our new Millenium. And now that some firms are entering their 20s, there’s a choice to be made. Continue to grow up or keep using an idea that’s worn out it’s welcome with the consumer and that has no guarantee will work with future technologies.

Maybe that’s why Facebook’s motto is now “Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure.”

Continue Reading

Tech News

Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

Published

on

computer vision recreates recipe

Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!