On March 29th 2013 we discovered that one of the MusicBrainz database dumps contained password hashes for a large portion of MusicBrainz accounts. While we don’t believe that these password hashes are either useful or widely distributed, we are requiring all users change their passwords.
What Data Was Leaked?
bcrypt password hashes, with a cost parameter of 8, for all accounts as of March 25th 2013.
Why Did This Happen?
We’ve recently began work on a long standing ticket against MusicBrainz server – MBS-357, “don’t store passwords in clear text”. We’re going to be moving away from clear text passwords, and we’ve decided to use one of the current industry standards for hashing passwords – bcrypt. Using bcrypt means that MusicBrainz will store only the hashes of passwords, which in laymans terms is a “fingerprint” of the password. Hashing means that we never store the actual password, but only the hash. There are many hashing functions available, and bcrypt is designed to be an expensive hash to compute with an adjustable “cost” – this makes it very hard to find out what the original password was via brute force attacks.
While this does mean that it’s hard to extract passwords from the hashes, the initial round of hashing passwords to move away from clear text is time consuming. As such, we built a small program that would gradually hash passwords over the course of a few days in order to make the switch from clear text passwords to secure password hashes done with as little downtime as possible.
This script hashed the
password into the
bcrypt_password column for all editors, and would also be notified when users changed their password in order to update the hash. Unfortunately, our database dump scripts sanitize this data by excluding data after-the-fact, rather than declaring what data to dump before running the script. As such, it dumped the entire editor table with the new column, as we forgot to add a rule to exclude this column.
The database dumps that contain this data were promptly deleted, and have been replaced with correctly sanitized database dumps. Unfortunately logs from this server do show that this database dump was downloaded, and as we have no real indication of where this data now is, we’re treating this seriously. We have adjusted our database dumping scripts to be very specific about exactly which data they should export, so that in the future we will not leak private data by making the same mistake again.
We’re extremely sorry about this mistake, and while we don’t believe this data should allow attackers to retrieve user passwords, we can’t be 100% certain. As such, we require that all users change their password as soon as possible.