Google Apps leaks Whois data for over 280,000 protected domains


Private information relating to more than 280,000 domains registered via Google Apps has leaked, leaving the registrants open to risk of identity theft or spear phishing.

The ability to buy domain names from one of Google's partners is a feature offered by Google Apps to allow easier access to and management of services.


A problem has existed since 2013 that has been slowly revealing the hidden registration information for domains that had opted into Whois privacy protection as they were renewed. Full names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for each domain have been leaked in the form of Whois records.

There around 305,925 domains registered via Google's partnership with eNom. Of these 282,867 domains, around 94 percent seem to have been affected. Google says that new domains that haven’t yet faced a request for renewal are not affected and of course some registrants choose not to hide their details anyway.

The leak was uncovered by security research group Cisco Talos which immediately notified the Google security team. Within days the privacy settings were restored to the affected domains. Google issued a notice to affected customers yesterday once it was sure the problem had been resolved. However, the information has been available for a long time, so anyone with a cached copy of Whois information will still be able to access it.

There's an interesting side effect to all of this as some of the leaked data relates to domains associated with malicious activity. For example, the domain "" which has an extremely poor web reputation score and might lead to some embarrassing questions for the people who registered it.

Cisco Talos concludes its blog post on the issue, "Organizations that handle any sensitive information must ensure that the appropriate systems are safeguarded and that the processes handle failure gracefully. In this instance, a simple check on domains changing state from being privacy protected to not being privacy protected could have identified the problem as it started to occur".

Image Credit: Angela Waye / Shutterstock

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