Dropbox earned itself a few headlines last Monday, scoring some points for cloud skeptics in the process. In case you missed it, Dropbox inadvertently introduced an authentication bug after a code update. As a result for four hours all accounts were accessible, even with the wrong passwords.
Dropbox promptly responded through a blog post, assuring users that less than 1 percent of them logged in during that period, and promising a thorough investigation.
Now a week’s gone by, and initial investigations revealed that the damage done wasn’t as bad as it might have been. Drew Houston, the Dropbox CEO, personally sent e-mail notices to affected account owners — and it turns out that less than 100 were intruded, all by just one single individual. Dropbox is providing free credit monitoring services to the affected users.
Houston also offered to have personal phone conversations, a gesture he hopes will reflect his sincerity and regain user trust.
Here’s his e-mail:
Subject: Important Dropbox Security Notice – Please Read
Earlier this week, we wrote to tell you about a security lapse at Dropbox. Today I am writing to tell you something I never expected to tell a customer. During our forensic analysis, we discovered that an extremely small number of accounts, including yours, were subject to some suspicious activity.
Our investigation revealed that at around xx:xx on x/xx/xxxx someone logged into your account. It is likely that your account was compromised by a third party. According to our records, neither your account settings nor files were modified. Information such as file and folder names would have been viewable, but our records do not indicate that any files were viewed or downloaded. Nevertheless, as a precaution we recommend that you take the following steps:
* If you had sensitive, personal, or financial information in your Dropbox or in the names of the files in your Dropbox account (for example, credit card numbers, bank account information, social security numbers) you should monitor your credit for any suspicious activity. You can learn more about identity theft at the FTC’s Identity Theft Site http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ .
* We have made arrangements for you to have free access to a credit monitoring service. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to use this program. You may also want to consider canceling any credit cards whose information was located in the folders listed above.
* If you stored passwords in your Dropbox, please make sure to change those passwords as soon as possible.
* Again, we urge you to review your account for any unauthorized activity and inform us immediately about your concerns.
As we mentioned earlier, the security lapse occurred during a code update that introduced a bug affecting our authentication mechanism. We will continue our investigations, but as best as we can tell right now, a single individual took advantage of the lapse to access fewer than a hundred accounts. Our team has been working around the clock to understand what happened and to make sure that it never happens again.
I cannot express how deeply sorry I am. Dropbox is my life, and I know that we are only as good as the trust we have built with our customers. This should not have happened, and I am hopeful that you will give us the chance to make this right and regain your trust.
I am here and ready to answer your questions and do whatever I can to help. Please do not hesitate to call me at +x-xxx-xxx-xxxx. Or if you’d like me to call you just reply with your phone number and I’ll give you a call.