Data Breach, Cyber Alert Monday 07-29-2019




Northwood, Inc:
 Provider of medical equipment, prosthetics, and supplies

Exploit: Unauthorized email account access

Risk to Small Business: 1.555 Severe: On May 6th, hackers gained access to an employee’s email account that contained patients’ personally identifiable information. A forensics investigation determined that hackers accessed company data for three days, and it’s unclear why Northwood waited more than two months to notify the public. In response, all employee passwords were reset, and Northwood encouraged employees to be vigilant about identifying suspicious emails. In addition, the company is upgrading its email security to try and prevent suspicious emails from reaching employees’ inboxes.

Individual Risk: 2= Severe: The hacked email account contained sensitive client data and personally identifiable information. This includes names, dates of birth, dates of service, provider names, medical record numbers, patient identification numbers, and other health-related information. In addition, some clients had their Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and health insurance information exposed. Northwood cannot confirm if this information was viewed or accessed by hackers, so those impacted by the breach need to be especially vigilant about monitoring their accounts for suspicious activity. Moreover, they should acquire identity and credit monitoring services to ensure the long-term integrity of their data.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Business: In today’s interconnected digital environment, small mistakes can have catastrophic consequences. In this case, a single email gave bad actors expansive access to people’s sensitive data. While Northwood is taking all the right steps to recover from the breach, companies that truly prioritize data security will take these actions before a breach occurs, which will not only help protect critical information, but it will save companies the incredible expense and reputational cost associated with a data breach.

Syracuse City School DistrictPublic school district based in Syracuse, New York

Exploit: Ransomware

Risk to Small Business: 2 = Severe: Ransomware brought services to a stop at the Syracuse City School District. The attack prevented the district from accessing their systems, and the malware spread to the city’s library system, which is now similarly hamstrung. While the district used backups to restore some services, including payroll, human relations, and student management, many of its online infrastructure remains inaccessible. What’s more, the district is embroiled in a debate about the best approach to recover their network as their insurance provider encourages them to pay the ransom and law enforcement agencies suggest that they refrain from making a payment. Regardless of the eventual approach, the district expects to incur six-figure losses from the incident.

Individual Risk: No personal information was compromised in the breach.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Business: The incident at Syracuse City School District illuminates a fierce debate about the most advantageous response to a ransomware attack. Many see paying the ransom as the fastest and most affordable way to recover crucial IT infrastructure. However, responding to ransom demands can incentivize bad behavior, making it more likely that these attacks will continue to wreak havoc on organizations and municipalities around the world. Therefore, it’s important to remember that the best response plan is based around a robust defense that includes identifying network vulnerabilities before an attack occurs.

Adirondack Health: Full-service healthcare provider serving patients in the Adirondack region of New York

Exploit: Unauthorized email account access

Risk to Small Business: 1.555= Severe: In March 2019, a remote hacker gained access to an employee’s email account that contained copious amounts of personal data. Although only one email contained patients’ personally identifiable information, it included an attachment for a “gap-in-care” analysis spreadsheet that provided hackers with access to a deluge of patient data. HIPAA guidelines mandate that companies report a data breach within 60 days, so it’s unclear why the company waited longer to notify the agency. In addition to the PR disaster that always accompanies a data breach, Adirondack Health could face fines and penalties because of their slow response time.

Individual Risk:  2.142= Severe: A significant amount of personal information was compromised in this breach, including names, treatment data, health insurance information, and dates of birth. Because this information is frequently sold on the Dark Web, those impacted by the breach should carefully monitor their accounts for suspicious activity. Moreover, identity and credit monitoring services can help ensure that credentials remain secure.

Customers Impacted: 25,000

How it Could Affect Your Business: Small mistakes can have catastrophic consequences for personal data. In this case, brief access to a single email account provided hackers with just one document that compromised data integrity for thousands of people. While companies should take every measure possible to protect their data before a breach, understanding what happens to people’s information after it’s compromised is an important step in the recovery process.

WMNF 88.5 FM:  Tampa-based community radio station

Exploit: Ransomware

Risk to Small Business: 1.777 = Severe: A ransomware attack on WMNF 88.5 FM forced the station to stop its live broadcasts, leaving listeners with pre-recorded shows instead. The attack also impacted their AudioVault system that includes much of the station’s programming, including advertising material that constitutes a significant share of their revenue. In addition, ransomware restricted access to office files and forms. However, rather than paying the ransom, the station reported the incident to authorities and brought in a cybersecurity contractor to restore their files. Of course, these services alongside the opportunity cost incurred when the station’s material wasn’t accessible will still be an expensive solution for the local radio station.

Individual Risk: No personal information was compromised in the breach.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Business: Even without paying a ransom demand, recovering from a ransomware attack is extremely expensive. Therefore, every organization needs to take every precaution possible to prevent these attacks in the first place. This certainly includes analyzing IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities, but it should also mean attaining the services necessary to know if your employee’s credentials are for sale on the Dark Web where they can be used to facilitate a ransomware attack.

Wise Health System: Medical provider serving patients in Decatur, Texas

Exploit:  Phishing attack

Risk to Small Business: 2 = Severe:  On March 14th, several employees fell for a phishing scam and entered their usernames and passwords on a false form. Hackers used this information to access an employee kiosk where they attempted to divert payroll deposits. IT administrators don’t believe that the hackers pursued patient data, but this information was included in the compromised accounts. Now, Wise Help System is responsible for providing a year of identity theft protection services to thousands of victims while also facing increased regulatory scrutiny because of their failure to report the incident within 60 days.

Individual Risk: 2.482 = Severe: In addition to the employee account details compromised in the breach, patient data was available to hackers. This includes patients’ medical record numbers, diagnosis, treatment information, and insurance data. Therefore, patients should monitor their accounts for unusual activity while also taking advantage of the identity theft monitoring services offered by Wise Health System.

Customers Impacted: 35,899

How it Could Affect Your Business: Phishing attacks are entirely preventable because they rely on employee ignorance and indifference to perpetuate data theft. However, with the right training, employees can be trained to spot phishing scams, effectively rendering them useless. It’s a cost-effective way to mitigate a serious risk to any company’s data security initiatives.

The Town of Collierville: Town in Shelby County, Tennessee

Exploit: Ransomware

Risk to Small Business: 1.777 = Severe: In an extensive attack that cut-off computer access for more than 550 government employees, attackers infected the Town of Collierville’s computer network with Ryuk ransomware. The malware made some computer systems unusable and encrypted other files, restricting the government’s access to the information. Consequently, government employees are unable to complete many tasks, including permit requests, public record requisitions, and business services. Fortunately, the town’s emergency services were not impacted by the attack. The city is enacting its response plan, but they have a long road to fully restoring operations.

Individual Risk: No personal information was compromised in the breach.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Business: Ransomware attacks are a top cybersecurity threat for local governments, making a holistic response plan a must-have element to any government’s IT strategy. Fortunately, the Town of Collierville prepared for this scenario, which allowed them to avoid paying the ransom. Regardless, full recovery is still an arduous process, which means that any measures that can help prevent a ransomware attack should be a top priority for local governments looking to avoid being the next victim of a ransomware attack.

In Other News:

Australian Consumers Demand Data Security…

According to a recent survey of Australian consumers, confidence in a company’s data security impacts their spending with that platform. The survey, which comprised of 2,000 consumers, found that 74% of Australians are less inclined to spend money with companies that cannot or will not secure their customers’ personal information. With increasing instances of financial fraud and data theft, who could blame them?

Local mayors are tired of paying the price for these attacks, and they codified this sentiment in a nonbinding, unanimous resolution at this year’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors where they vowed not to pay any more ransom demands.

To date, 34% of Australians experienced data loss from a company’s security breach or hack, and those numbers increase for younger generations that are more likely to participate in today’s expansive digital ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the retail sector and small businesses polled as the least trusted vendors, meaning that companies hoping to win customers need to make data security an integral part of their business strategy. Increasing the impetus to get this right from day one, 43% of consumers indicated that they would never return to a brand that compromised their data security.

Therefore, it’s clear that the need to identify vulnerabilities and to account for data security is more than just an altruistic endeavor. It’s mission critical for flourishing businesses in today’s increasingly digital economy. Don’t let this issue go overlooked.

With companies like Kobargo equipped to fortify your cybersecurity defenses, now is the perfect time to prepare your company for today’s evolving threat landscape.

A Note From Kobargo..800,000 Computers Still Vulnerable to “BlueKeep”… 

Despite the well-publicized threat that the BlueKeep vulnerability poses to individuals and enterprises, more than 800,000 systems are still not protected from the threat.

BlueKeep is a backdoor that allows hackers to access networks where they can directly deliver malware. The flaw can cause significant damage, and neutralizing the threat is surprising easy. A simple software update, which Microsoft issued in May, nullifies the vulnerability, but according to data compiled by a New Internet scan, less than 20% of eligible systems were updated in the past month.

With cyber threats coming from all directions, fixing security

vulnerabilities through software updates is an easy way to prevent obvious threats from wreaking havoc on your company’s IT infrastructure. Partnering with security specialists can help organizations identify vulnerabilities, fortifying their defenses before a data breach occurs.


Contact Kobargo Technology Partners to schedule a free consultation today!

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