Keyboard app security gaffe exposes 31mn users' data including passwords, web searches

Millions caught in virtual keyboard app data breach

The personal user data of around 31 million users of the popular virtual keyboard app AI.type has been confirmed to have been compromised and leaked. A big flaw in this kind of database lets anyone access, edit or even delete the data stored on it. Co-founder Eitan Fitusi has since claimed that the server is now secure, but the extent of the damage is not known.

Researchers had attempted to contact the company behind AI.type on multiple occasions but it wasn't until this past weekend that they finally acknowledged it. AI.type says it has now secured the database, and that the leak didn't impact AI.type's nine million iOS users. It was uncovered by Kromtech Security Center researchers.

The database of 577 gigabytes of data collected from users of the keyboard included a huge range of personal information. Dangerously, the records also included a user's precise location, including their city and country.

Other records are significantly more detailed. Data collected from free users includes their phone's unique IMSI and IMEI numbers, SIM cards and mobile networks, and what version of Android the phone has. Accompanying the numbers were the make and model of the device, its screen resolution and the version of Android it was running.

We also found several tables of contact data uploaded from a user's phone. Many records contain specific details of a user's public Google profile, including email addresses, dates of birth, genders, and profile photos.

In total, the database contained more than 10.7 million email addresses and 374.6 million phone numbers, suggesting the app accessed the contacts of its users and uploaded that information to its database.

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Numerous kinds of records of the app's users were available on the server.

Several tables contained lists of each app installed on a user's device, such as banking apps and dating apps.

It's not uncommon for keyboard apps to ask for wide-ranging permissions to access data on a user's device-and in many cases, users are willing to grant it because the keyboard is an essential tool. Security researchers have continued to warn that these apps could also steal your passwords despite their assurances.ai.type is no innocent in this game of data collection.

AI.type says on its website that user's privacy 'is our main concern'. Any text entered on the keyboard "stays encrypted and private", says the company. Some of the records, however, are far more significant and include phone numbers and IP addresses. Said Bob Diachenko of Kromtech Security Center in a blog post. At this point, Kromtech warns that anyone who had ever downloaded and installed ai.type keyboard should consider their data out in the open. "This presents a real danger to cybercriminals who could commit fraud or scams using such detailed information about the user".

"It raises the question once again if it is really worth it for consumers to submit their data in exchange for free or discounted products or services that gain full access to their devices", he added.

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