Data Breach, Cyber Alert Monday 2-21-2020

Last week, companies are slow to stop phishing attacks, ransomware disrupts productivity, and IBM’s latest threat analysis outlines trends for 2020.  

Multi-factor authentication attacks on the rise. Use additional authentication and educate users

United States - Altice USA 

Exploit: Phishing Attack
Altice USA: Cable and internet provider

Risk to Small Business: 2 = SevereA phishing attack tricked an employee into providing hackers with email credentials that were used to access and download inbox content remotely. Although the breach was announced on February 5th, the phishing scam was executed in November 2019. It wasn’t discovered until December 2019, which raises questions about the company’s data security capabilities and notification strategy. As a result, Altice USA will have a difficult time restoring customer confidence, which will be critical to recovering from this preventable data breach.

Individual Risk: 2.285 = SevereCustomers’ personal information was compromised in the breach. This includes Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other personal details. The company claims that financial information was untouched by the breach and is offering free identity and credit monitoring services for affected victims to protect compromised data.

Customers Impacted: 12,000

How it Could Affect Your Customers’ Business: Phishing attacks are easy to deploy, and they are devastating to companies compromised by malicious messages. Although security processes are unlikely to keep all phishing emails out of their employees’ inboxes, they can render the attacks useless by providing comprehensive awareness training that teaches and trains employees to identify phishing scams.

United States - St. Louis Community College

Exploit: Phishing Attack
St. Louis Community College: Public academic institution

Risk to Small Business: 2.111 = SevereSeveral employees fell for a phishing scam that compromised students’ personal information. The phishing attack, which took place on January 13th, happened just weeks before the school implemented two-factor authentication on January 31st. If this effective defensive measure was in place sooner, hackers would not have been able to access employee accounts, even after they provided their credentials on a phishing form. In response, the college is retraining employees who clicked on a phishing email, and they are updating their procedures to prevent a similar event in the future.

Individual Risk: 2.428 = SevereStudents’ personal data was compromised in the breach, including names, ID numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. In addition, 71 students had their Social Security numbers stolen. This information can be used to execute identity fraud or to target victims with spear-phishing campaigns that could provide hackers with even more damaging personal data. Those impacted by the breach should enroll in credit and identity monitoring services to oversee the responsibility of identifying misuse, and they should carefully evaluate online communications for signs of a phishing scam.

Customers Impacted: 5,000

How it Could Affect Your Customers’ Business: This incident is a tragic reminder that, when it comes to data security, timing is everything. Phishing attacks awareness training and two-factor authentication can go a long way toward protecting the company and customer data, but they need to be in place before an attack occurs. Therefore, installing proactive measures should be a top priority in the days and weeks ahead.

Australia - Ashley Madison 

Exploit: Unauthorized database access
Ashley Madison: Adult romance website

Risk to Small Business: 2 = SevereCybercriminals are redeploying data from Ashley Madison’s 2016 data breach to target Australian users with sextortion emails. These messages contain intimate and highly personal information gleaned from the breach, and cybercriminals are threatening to publicly release the information if victims don’t pay a Bitcoin ransom. The emails are highly personalized and include sensitive personal details derived from the initial data breach. While it’s easy to write-off a data breach at an adult website, it reflects the IT environment experienced by any company that collects personal data, and the many ways that hackers exploit that information to make money.

Individual Risk: 2.142= SevereThe personalized emails include users’ names, bank account numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and dates of birth. It also contains private content and communications conducted on the website.

Customers Impacted: Unknown

How it Could Affect Your Customers’ Business: Data breaches impact more than just a company’s bottom line. They often have tangible consequences for each individual compromised in a breach, and even years after a breach, they can continually reappear, causing personal, psychological, and financial trouble for victims. It should encourage every company to take every step possible to protect personal data.

Risk Levels:
1 - 1.5 = Extreme Risk
1.51 - 2.49 = Severe Risk
2.5 - 3 = Moderate Risk
*The risk score is calculated using a formula that considers a wide range of factors related to the assessed breach.


In Other News:

More than Half of British Consumers Endured a Data Breach in 2019 

The latest IBM threat report examines the most prescient threats facing business in 2020, and its findings should alarm cybersecurity leaders. Notably, the report found that hackers are not turning to overly sophisticated techniques to access company IT. Rather, they are relying on the deluge of personal data already available to access an organization’s infrastructure. When those methods fail, many are deploying phishing scams as a cheap, relatively safe way to compromise employee credentials.

According to IBM, phishing attacks and unauthorized credential use were two of the most prominent attack methodologies, with the exploitation of vulnerabilities completing a risk triumvirate for companies to address in the year ahead.

The report’s silver lining is that companies are not powerless against these threats. Employee awareness training can render these attacks useless, and integrated two-factor authentication can prevent unauthorized account access even when credentials are compromised. Together, they present a meaningful way for every company to protect itself against the most likely threats in the year ahead.


A Note From Kobargo

Ransomware Attacks Are Driving Up Cyber Insurance Rates 

Ransomware attacks were one of the defining cybersecurity threats of 2019, and just one month into 2020, it’s clear that bad actors will continue to deploy this malware to capitalize on their criminality. As companies grapple with the implications of this new reality, many are turning to cybersecurity insurance as a way to offset the cost and consequences of an attack. Unfortunately, ransomware attacks have become so common that cyber insurance rates have soared in response.

According to some reports, cybersecurity insurance has increased by as much as 25% in the past year. At the same time, insurance companies are expanding their offerings, adapting their business model for shifting data security and regulatory landscape. However, companies relying on cyber insurance will likely be disappointed as payouts rarely cover the cost of an attack, and increasingly high premiums make it an affordable option to begin with.

Instead, many organizations would be better off investing in a robust defense strategy that can defend against a ransomware attack before it happens. It’s the only way to truly avoid the escalating costs and consequences of a ransomware attack.


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