A popular family tracking app was leaking the real-time locations of more than 238,000 users for weeks after the developer left a server exposed without a password.
The app, Family Locator, built by Australia-based software house React Apps, allows families to track each other in real-time, such as spouses or parents wanting to know where their children are. It also lets users set up geofenced alerts to send a notification when a family member enters or leaves a certain location, such as school or work.
But the backend MongoDB database was left unprotected and accessible by anyone who knew where to look.
Sanyam Jain, a security researcher and a member of the GDI Foundation, found the database and reported the findings to TechCrunch.
Based on a review of the database, each account record contained a user’s name, email address, profile photo and their plaintext passwords. Each account also kept a record of their own and other family members’ real-time locations precise to just a few feet. Any user who had a geofence set up also had those coordinates stored in the database, along with what the user called them — such as “home” or “work.”
None of the data was encrypted.
TechCrunch verified the contents of the database by downloading the app and signing up using a dummy email address. Within seconds, our real-time location appeared as precise coordinates in the database.
We contacted one app user at random who, albeit surprised and startled by the findings, confirmed to TechCrunch that the coordinates found under their record were accurate. The Florida-based user, who did not want to be named, said that the database was the location of their business. The user also confirmed that a family member listed in the app was their child, a student at a nearby high school.
Several other records we reviewed also included the real-time locations of parents and their children.
On Friday, we asked Microsoft, which hosted the database on its Azure cloud, to contact the developer. Hours later, the database was finally pulled offline.
It’s not known precisely how long the database was exposed for. Singh still hasn’t acknowledged the data leak.
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