Zendesk Exposes 10,000 Accounts to Unknown Third Party

Zendesk says access occurred in 2016 and that only a small percentage of customers were impacted.

Cloud-based customer service company Zendesk notified customers that account information for 10,000 users was accessed prior to November 2016.

In a note posted Wednesday, Zendesk said email addresses, user names, and phone numbers were accessed for customers and users of its Support and Chat products. Zendesk Support is the company’s customer support ticketing service. Chat is Zendesk’s live messaging service used on websites and mobile devices.

Maarten Van Horenbeeck, chief information security officer of Zendesk said in a statement Wednesday the company became aware of the accessed data on September 24 when a third party notified them of the leak. The bulk of the account data accessed included PII data tied to its Support and Chat service, but also included expired trial accounts and accounts that are no longer active.

The company said for that smaller subset of 700 customers, the unknown third parties accessed Transport Layer Security encryption keys provided to Zendesk by customers along with configuration settings of apps installed from the Zendesk app marketplace or private customer apps.

“This may include integration keys used by those apps to authenticate against third party services,” wrote Van Horenbeeck.

The company, who counts Airbnb, Stanley Black and Decker and Fossil as customers, said affected users are advised to “rotate all credentials for the respective app” used during the vulnerable time period.

“If you uploaded a TLS certificate to Zendesk prior to November 1st of 2016 which is still valid, we recommend you upload a new certificate, and revoke the old one,” Van Horenbeeck said. “API Tokens in Chat do not need to be rotated.”

He added that there is no indication that other authentication credentials were accessed.

The rotation of credentials will impact a larger group of customers and products that share authentication with the Zendesk Support service. Those include the Guide, Talk and Explore Zendesk products. When users log into one of the products they will be prompted to reset their passwords.

Additional precautions are being made by Zendesk for its Chat APIs for customers that haven’t changed their password since 2016.

“Note that if you utilize basic authentication into the Zendesk or Chat APIs through your password, you will need to reestablish your connection to those APIs upon changing your password.  This password rotation will not impact the use of API or OAuth tokens,” according to the note.

Access of Zendesk data by a third party may also have implications under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Zendesk is alerting customers they may have to report this incident to their Data Protection Authority (DPA). A DPA is an agency within each European Union country responsible for GDPR assistance and enforcement.

“Zendesk’s customers are the Data Controllers of Service Data, and Zendesk is a Data Processor of that Service Data when it is performing the Zendesk Service. This means that it is up to each customer to determine if it is required under Article 33 of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) to notify its Supervisory Authority, depending on whether the relevant risk thresholds have been met under the GDPR,” according to Zendesk.

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