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From big brands to government agencies, hacking attacks hit throughout 2020. These groups were phished to gain access to consumer data, and even held for ransom to prevent details from leaking out to the public. From Social Security numbers to medical history, home addresses to credit card details, attackers continued to try and grab hold of data points that are personal to consumers.
We saw much of the same activity even throughout 2019, and we’ll continue to document the data breaches for 2021 as well. You can also continue to the steps necessary to secure your digital life, especially if you find that any of the company breaches below may have affected you.
Week of December 28: Ledger
Ledger’s customers may have some of their records leaked online
A cryptocurrency wallet firm, Ledger, which was the victim of a data breach in June, is now finding that some of that data is being leaked online. More than 1.3 million people and their records have been compromised, with some data involved including email addresses, names and addresses, reports TechRadar. And customers are now saying they’re already getting phishing emails — and alerting Ledger as well.
Personal details including birth dates were breached by a contractor for Now:Pensions
A contractor for Now:Pensions in the UK posted personal details of about 30,000 customers online in a public format, reports The Guardian. The data breach is extensive, involving names, email addresses, physical addresses, birth dates, and even National Insurance numbers. While the data has since been removed, some of it was seen — and copied — by people while it was still visible.
Chase customers are getting phished for their information
Customers are getting phishing emails from Chase bank purporting to be a security notice. The email claims that activity on their account is suspicious and their account has now been blocked, reports Bleeping Computer. The customers are told they need to validate information in order to get their account re-opened — and to click on a button that says, “Restore Now.” They are taken to a fake Chase page, which looks surprising like the real one — but is instead one set up by hackers.
Week of December 17: U.S. computer systems
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is warning about a data breach affected federal agencies
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — also know as CISA — has warned officials of a hack into federal agencies and infrastructure that started at least as early as March 2020.
Even more concerning? CISA has stated that “removing this threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging for organizations,” it said in a statement released December 17, 2020.
While this kind of a breach does not release people’s credit card numbers or names, these sophisticated hacks are more complicated, often installing back doors, or new ways, for hackers to gain access into a group’s digital system.
In this case, hackers took advantage by hacking SolarWinds Orion software, which is used by federal and civilian groups, to add these backdoors into their systems. CISA also believes other methods were used as well.
Subway sandwiches (UK/Ireland)
A phishing attack is sending customers fake emails about an order they never placed
A phishing attack is hitting Subway sandwich customers in Ireland and in the U.K., telling them an order is being processed, and asking them to click on a link. Doing so, though, drops malware on their devices — not a confirmation of a sandwich.
What customers are saying, though, is these emails are very targeted — going to actual Subway customers, and using their first names. That’s leading people to believe that the phishing attack stems from a hack of Subway’s own network, reports Bleeping Computer.
Dental Care Alliance
A vendor that handles support for dental clients is reporting a breach of its network.
A vendor that handles support services for dental clients, has now reported a hack that may have affected details on about 1 million patients. The company, Dental Care Alliance (DCA), noticed issues on October 11, and was able to figure out that hackers had access to its system from September 18 to October 13.
Details that were involved include names, contact information, someone’s dental records health insurance and even bank account numbers. DCA has started to contact its clients this week, reports Health ITSecurity.
Week of December 7, 2020: Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine data
Numerous hacking attempts of Covid-19 vaccine data have been reported
Just a day after the world’s first Covid-19 vaccinations took place, drugmaker Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said documents related to the develop of the vaccine has been “unlawfully accessed” during a cyberattack.
Hours earlier, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had been targeted. Pfizer and BioNTech said they did not believe any personal data of vaccine trial participants had been compromised, and that EMA “has assured us that the cyber attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review,” Reuters reported. It was said that documents relating to the creation of the vaccine, which was first used in the UK this week, would be extremely valuable to other companies working to creating a Covid-19 vaccine.
Data on Covid-19 and the various vaccines in development has become a high-value target for hackers the world over. Allegations have previously been reported of hackers from North Korea, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam, China and Russia trying to steal information about the virus and treatment.
FireEye is a government contractor and world-renowned cybersecurity firm
FireEye, one of the world’s largest security companies, admitted on December 8 that it had been the victim of a “highly sophisticated threat actor”. The company went on to describe the hacker as “one whose discipline, operational security, and techniques lead us to believe it was a state-sponsored attack.”
FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia added: “We are witnesses an attack by a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities…They used a novel combination of techniques not witnessed by us or our partners in the past.”
Microsoft has been brought in to help investigate the breach, and the FBI has also been notified and is assisting the company.
Cedar Springs Hospital, Colorado
The unencrypted storage divide contains patient information
Finally this week, a Colorado health department surveyor admitted to losing an external storage drive containing unencrypted copies of patient records, reports Becker’s Hospital Review.
Cedar Springs Hospital provided a copy of multiple patient records to the Colorado health department. On October 28 the hospital learned that the storage device was not encrypted, contrary to the state health department’s policy, and the device was subsequently misplaced by the surveyor.
Th device contained names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers of patients, as well as medical information including treatment history and diagnosis.
Week of November 30, 2020: Royal Dutch Cycling Union
The Royal Dutch Cycling Union, known as KNWU, which is the national group overseeing cycling in the Netherlands got hit by a data breach of its old system in late November, according to The Daily Swig. But it a turn on the hackers, the group is refusing to pay the ransom demanded to return the data.
Instead, KNWU has told all its members to update their login details, and stated that personal and contact details are involved, but won’t delineate what specific data may have been comprised.
In its statement, the group also explained why they won’t pay the hackers, noting that KNWU has backups of all their data already, and that paying the hackers won’t guarantee they won’t demand ransom again.
Huntsville City Schools
Another ransomware attack has hit a school district in the U.S., this time in Alabama. Huntsville City Schools sent all their students home this week — even virtually — because of a ransomware attack, according to WAFF48, a local news channel. Students are not only told not to come into the buildings, but they’re being told to turn off any devices issued by their schools as well.
The district is first looking at whether backups will be able to restore the data, and it’s also working with federal authorities to figure out what kind of personal data may be involved.
Chip maker Advantech has been hit with a ransomware demand — and the hackers are actually leaking some data to put pressure on the company to pay. The hackers want $14 million to hand over the decryption tool that would unlock the data taken by the attackers, known as the Conti ransomware operation, reports Threatpost.
Advantech is a Taiwanese company that specialize in machine automation and also IoT systems. The ransom demand by Conti is in Bitcoin, and as the days go on when someone does not pay, they begin to increase the price incrementally.
Week of November 23, 2020: Manchester United
The Manchester United soccer club confirmed this week that it had been a victim of a cyberattack. Describing the incident as “sophisticated,” the world-famous club said it had “taken swift action to contain the attack and is currently working with expert advisers to investigate the incident and minimize the ongoing IT disruption.”
The club added that all “critical systems” required for games to take place at its Old Trafford stadium were secure, and that matches would go ahead as normal. Due to coronavirus lockdown rules, professional football games across the UK are currently taking place behind closed doors, with no fans permitted to attend. Manchester United said it was not aware of any breach of personal data associated with its fans or customers.
Baltimore Country Public Schools
This week saw the temporary closure of all Baltimore County public schools, after the school system was struck by a ransomware attack. The district said its entire it system was inaccessible after an unknown actor took over the system and demanded a ransom, reports CBS. The ransom amounts has not yet been reported.
Baltimore City Schools said they were aware of the computer network issues and urged students learning virtually to only use laptops and other devices issued by City Schools. “We are in the preliminary steps of the investigation, and while I know that there is an interest in more information, at this time, we are just not able to provide anything additional,” said Baltimore Country Police Chief Melissa Hyatt.
the FBI released a statement on November 25 to say they were aware if the issue, which started late on the 24th.
Between 300,000 and 350,000 Spotify accounts have been broken into, when an unsecured database packed with over 380 million records, including login credentials, was found online. The database included email addresses and passwords, as well as usernames, email addresses and countries of residence, reports WeLiveSecurity.
The data was held on a freely accessible Elasticsearch server that was uncovered by vpnMentor. Spotify confirmed that it recognized the data as belonging to its users, and said the trove had been used to defraud the music-streaming company and its users. Spotify accounts were broken into using a process called credential stuffing, where hackers use an automated process to repeatedly guess login details using piles of stolen email addresses and passwords.
Users can often protect themselves from this by using multi-factor authentication, where a service will send you an email or text message when it detects a login attempt from a computer or device not used by you before.
Week of November 17: Mercy Iowa City breached
The hospital Mercy Iowa City in Iowa was hit with a data breach that may have affected more than 60,000 people in the state, reports local network KCRG. The breach involved names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, the driver’s license numbers, health insurance details and the medical treatment they may have received.
The hospital may have been breached via an email account of a hospital worker, which reportedly happened between May 15 and June 24, 2020. Letters have been sent to people who may have been affected.
Vertafore software company unauthorized access
A breach affecting software company Vertafore may have revealed information on nearly 28 million Texas drivers. The breach was caused after the data stored on an external location was then accessed without permission, reports KXAN.
Some of the information accessed includes birthdates, vehicle registration history, and people’s names. Social Security number were not involved in the breach which happened between March and August 2020.
The cryptocurrency exchange Liquid has admitted, via a blog post, that a hacker was able to gain power over its domain on November 13, 2020, allowing them to get control over internal email accounts. From there, the hacker got into Liquid’s document storage. The company has regained control over its domain, and says that all funds and crypto wallets are unaffected and “were not compromised,” the CEO wrote.
Still, Liquid admits that some information from email addresses, name, mailing addresses and encrypted passwords may have been breached. The company is also looking into whether additional details including IDs, selfie photos and even proof of address were involved as well.
Week of November 9: Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com and more
A huge data breach was reported this month, where the personal details (including names and unprotected credit card information) was exposed by an online hotel booking platform. Called Cloud Hospitality, the system belongs to Prestige Software and is used by many large hotel booking services; a misconfigured Amazon Web Services bucket caused sensitive customer data held by the platform to be freely available to anyone who knew its online location.
The data, from Amadeus, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotelbeds, Omnibees, Sabre and others, included full customer names, email addresses, national ID numbers and phone numbers, plus credit card numbers, cardholder names, CVV codes and expiration dates. The data even included reservation numbers, the dates of when customers stayed at hotels, special requests made by guests, the number of guests on a booking, and each of their names. Such a broad trove of data leaves victims exposed to hacking attempts and identity fraud, among other crimes.
Discovered by security researchers at Website Planet, the huge database is claimed to have exposed over 10 million files in 24.4GB of data, reports ThreatPost. The records go back to 2013 but the unprotected server was still having data added to it as recently as this month (November 2020).
Technology news website Mashable announced this week it had been the victim of a data beach on November 4. In a note on its own website, the company said: “We learned that a hacker known for targeting websites and apps has posted a copy of a Mashable database to the internet.”
The database related to a feature that, in the past, had allowed readers of the website to their their social media login details (for Facebook, Twitter etc), to share Mashable content. The company added: “The types of data in the database include first and last names, general location (such as city or country), email addresses, gender, date of registration, IP addresses, links to social media profiles, expired OAuth tokens, and month and day of user birthday (but not year).”
No financial detail is stored by Mashable, so none was taken in the data breach. But this is still a serious incident and could still expose victims to fraud via phishing scams.
Finally this week, a hugely popular children’s online playground called Animal Jam suffered a data breach impacting 46 million accounts. Created by WildWorks of Draper, Utah, Animal Jam is an online environment where children aged seven to 11 can play games with each other. It os claimed that over 300 million animal avatars have been created by users in the game’s history, and a new player registers every 1.4 seconds, reports BleepingComputer.
The enormous database is believed to have been stolen on October 12, 2020, via malicious actors obtaining server keys by compromising WildWorks’ company Slack server. The stolen database, which has only been partially shared by hackers, is believed to contain 46 million player usernames (which do not contain a child’s real name), plus 46 million hashed passwords, seven million email addresses of parents who have created accounts for their children, parents’ IP addresses, and a smaller subset of parent billing addresses, plus player gender and birthdates.
All Animal Jam players will be asked to reset they password when next logging in.
A ransomware attack hit toy maker Mattel, the company admitted, that hit — and encrypted — data in some of its systems. The toy maker said it had been able to stop the attack, but that “some business functions were temporarily impacted,” according to a disclosure in its third quarter report.
The incident happened in July 2020, and Mattel said not only was it able to gain back control, it also investigated its own systems and was able to confirm that “…no exfiltration of any sensitive business data or retail customer, supplier, consumer, or employee data was identified,” it wrote. The company also said the attack did not have an “adverse” effect on its financials.
New York DMV
New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles is warning drivers that a text message making the rounds — and purporting to be from the DMV — is fake and instead is a phishing scam, according to CBS. The message tells people they need to update their contact details, and if clicked takes them to a fake web site.
The message implies this information is regarding the Real ID requirement which is going to be implemented in the state, and will be needed starting in October 2021 to board domestic flights. But the text does not come from the DMV, and the agency is asking people to delete the message if they see one.
In Australia, Netflix subscribers are being told there is a phishing scam circulating that asks for people to update their information via a fake email. The email actually scrapes the Netflix logo — making it look more real than it clearly is — telling people that their payment information needs to be checked as there are problems with their billing.
Authorities tell people not to click on the link, and when it comes to any email asking for people to verify their payment details, to be very wary. Best practices for any email that asks you to click on an embedded link is to type the URL of the web site, where you normally go, in on your own and go to the site that way.
Week of October 26, 2020: Psychotherapy clinic blackmailer
Our top story this week comes from Finland, where numerous patients of a large psychotherapy clinic were individually contacted by a blackmailer, who had access to their stolen private data and is now demanding a ransom, otherwise the data will be made public.
A nationwide practice with 25 therapy centers, Vastaamo has told those affected by the data breach to contact the police, the BBC reports. It believes the data, which included personal identification records of thousands of patients, was stolen back in November 2018. It also believes a second breach took place in March 2019.
A further report by the Associated Press says the hacker or hackers had published at least 300 patient records, containing names and contact information, to the dark web using the anonymous Tor web browser. The hacker then contacted victims with an extortion letter.
You might not have heard of Nitro. But a massive data breach suffered by the PDF service has impacted many household company names, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Citibank and Chase. Nitro is an application used to create and edit PDF documents, and is claimed to be used by over 10,000 thousand business and 1.8 million customers worldwide.
However, on October 21 the firm, which is listed on the Australia Stock Exchange, announced it has been the victim of a security incident. The breach was described by the firm as “low impact”, and involving “limited access to Nitro database by an unauthorized third party.”
Bleeping Computer reports how cybersecurity intelligence firm Cyble believes the hacker is trying to sell user and document databases stolen from Nitro, as well as 1TB of documents claimed to be stolen from the company’s cloud service. It has been reported that the database is being sold via a private auction with a starting bid of $80,000. The stolen data is claimed to contain 17,000 documents belonging to Amazon, 6,400 belonging to Apple and 32,000 belonging to Google.
Despite this, Nitro says the breached database does not contain user or customer documents and “has had no material impact on Nitro’s ongoing operations.”
Home Depot Canada acknowledged a data breach this week that saw some customers receive hundreds of order confirmation emails from other users of the retail store. The emails included customer names, mailing addresses, email addresses, order details and partial credit card information. One user posted a video of their email inbox on Twitter, claiming there were over 660 order confirmation emails there, each exposing the names and addresses of random Home Depot customers.
The issues appears to have affected hundreds of users, who each received dozens and in some cases hundreds of the emails. Home Depot Canada said on Twitter on October 28: “We are aware of what occurred this morning and can confirm that this issue has now been fixed. The issue impacted a very small number of our customers who had in-store pick-up orders.”
Week of October 19: Albion Online
An online fantasy game, Albion Online, told users that someone broke into its user forums and their profiles. Involved are potentially user email addresses and encrypted passwords that were both hashed and salted. And while those passwords cannot be unencrypted, they could potentially be used to “identify accounts with particularly weak passwords,” said the company.
While Albion told users that payment information was not involved, they do want people to change their password. And if they have been using that same password on another service or site, to change that in the locations as well.
Albion said it knows how the hacker breached the system, and has closed off that vulnerability.
Made In Oregon
A small online retailer in Portland, Oregon has notified some of its customers that some of their personal data has been breached. The data includes customer names, shipping and billing addresses, credit card information and also their email addresses, according to Oregon Live.
The company, Made In Oregon, sells local goods from cheese to Oregon wine and coffee. The online gift store sent the letter to 7,800 customers, and emphasized that the breach only affected online customers and not those who had made purchases via phone or in their store.
UPDATED: Fort Bragg
UPDATED: While not a data breach per se, Fort Bragg reported its Twitter account had been hacked on Wednesday, with an unauthorized user posting a sexually inappropriate respond to someone’s else’s Twitter post, reported the Fayetteville Observer. But as it turned out, a civilian employee of Fort Bragg, thinking he was on his private account, had actually posted over the official Twitter account instead, The Washington Post later reported.
Fort Bragg is an Army military base in North Carolina, and initially the U.S. Army said it would be handling the investigation. Initially, Fort Bragg’s Twitter account put up an apology, and took down the account to investigate the matter further.
Week of October 12, 2020: Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble emailed customers on October 12 to inform them of a security breach, which may have exposed email addresses and other personal information. The cyberattack resulted in users being unable to view their Nook ebook collections, load books previously bought and buy new books.
The bookseller emailed customers to say there had been “no compromise of payment card or other such financial data,” but added: “The systems impacted, however, did contain your email address and, if supplied by you, your billing and shipping address and telephone number. We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility.”
All Barnes & Noble customers are now urged to keep a close eye on their email accounts, to make sure no new accounts have been created using their details. It is also possible that affected users may receive spam phone calls and phishing attempts, which they should ignore.
London’s Hackney council
Hackney Council in London this week said it had been the victim of a cyberattack, of which the damage isn’t yet fully known. The department said the attack had had a “significant impact” on its services and IT systems. “The attack is continuing to have a significant impact on council services and we ask residents to not contact us unless absolutely necessary,” it said.
Council staff are working with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency to work out what has happened. The council said it is working closely with police agencies to understand the situation. The council added: “We are learning more about the attack but are choosing not to share any more information at this stage in order to make sure we do not inadvertently assist the attackers.”
US data breaches down 30 percent
Finally this week, some rare positive news. Data produced by non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center reveals how the volume of data breaches reported in the US is expected to be its lowered since 2015. So far, the volume of data breaches reported in 2020 in down 30 percent on the same period last year, and in terms of individuals affected by data breaches, that number is 60 percent lower than in 2019, at 292 million, reported Infosecurity Magazine.
However, it should be noted that one breach of IT service provider Blackbaud caused data loss at hundreds of companies, but is counted as one incident. If this was treated as a series of separate data breaches, Infosecurity Magazine says the overall volume would have fallen 10 percent compared to 2019.
Week of October 5, 2020: Chowbus
Delivery service Chowbus got hit with a data breach that syphoned off hundreds of thousands of records of its customers forenames to email addresses. Customers found out in a rather unusual way as well. Instead of getting a notification from the company, they received an email with links to a CSV file with more than 800,000 records included, according to a post on Reddit.
Chowbus handles deliveries specifically of Asian food, and it works in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and data from customers in North America and Australia was found in the files, according to Silicon Angle. No credit card numbers were reportedly involved, but just the same people should keep an eye on their charges.
Covid-19 Relief Funds phishing attack
An email, purporting to be from the Internet Revenue Service, is telling people they have information about their Covid-19 relief funds and to click to get more details. There, people are told to then fill out a form — and include their email, Social Security numbers, driver’s license information and more, according to Armorblox, a cybersecurity technology firm.
The form itself was hosted on an actual SharePoint account, although one that had been taken over, and had Microsoft branding. Filling out the details, of course, did not yield any data about Covid-19 funds. Sending these details, especially Social Security numbers, through an email link is not advisable.
Phishing attacks lure Amazon shoppers
New phishing attacks are trying to lure Amazon shoppers by sending them to fake web sites and trying to get them to enter their credit card numbers. These attacks imply they’re concerning returns or order cancellations around Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day, taking people to a fake Amazon customer support page that ends in a “.net.” (Amazon’s pages all end in “.com”)
Another site looks like Amazon’s branding at the top, but encourages them to enter their credit card information to potentially win a chance at an iPhone 11 Pro, according to a research group, Bolster. Here the URL ends in a “.vip” which is not Amazon’s URL. Best advice? Go directly to the main Amazon web site and log in to your account — on your own — instead of clicking on a link in an email.
Week of September 28, 2020: Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics
The makeup company owned by Kylie Jenner, called Kylie Cosmetics, warned customers this week of a security breach compromising names, addresses, and the last four digits of their credit cards.
The data breach stemmed from Shopify, which said two “rogue” workers in its customer support team had stolen user data from at least 100 sellers on its platform, including Kylie Cosmetics. The beauty company told customers in a statement: “Your trust is so important to us. And we wanted to let you know we’re working diligently with Shopify to get additional information about this incident and their investigation and response to this matter.”
Kylie Cosmetics added: “Shopify has assured us that they have implemented additional controls designed to help prevent this type of incident from recurring in the future.”
As we reported last week, Shopify released a statement on the matter, saying: “Complete payment card numbers or other sensitive personal or financial information were not part of this incident.”
Covid tracking apps leak data
A report this week claimed that 85 percent of smartphone applications designed to track the spread of Covid-19 leak user data. Released by Intertrust, the study also claimed that 71 percent of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.
Reported by Help Net Security, the study looked at 100 publicly available global healthcare applications across the telehealth, medical device, health commerce and Covid-19 tracking sectors. The latter use a phone’s Bluetooth signal to alert users if they have come in close contact with someone who goes on to test positive for coronavirus.
Bill Horne, CTO at Intertrust, said: “Unfortunately, there’s been a history of security vulnerabilities in the healthcare and medical space. Things are getting a lot better, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
USPS: Phishing text scam warning
US citizens were warned this week about a phishing scam posing as text messages from the United States Postal Service. The text message claims to be an urgent notice from the USPS about an incoming parcel, and asks recipients to open a link and enter personal information, like their social security number. The Federal Trade Commission warned that these messages should not be opened, the link should not be followed, and personal information should not be entered.
Ari Lazarus, an FTC consumer education specialist, told ABC: “If you click on the link, it can trick you into giving personal information…that can lead to identity theft, or it can lead to malware on your device…If you get something from FedEx, contact FedEx directly at a phone number you know to be true, go to their website and see if indeed there is a package that way.”
Week of September 21, 2020: Shopify
With online shopping a primary way many are purchasing groceries to clothes, the data breach from Shopify was concerning. But the online payment site on Tuesday that two of its own people worked to skim records of purchases from about 200 merchants, said Shopify in a statement. The company did not name the merchants, but the data theft includes names and addresses of buyers, and also what they bought.
Shopify stated that “Complete payment card numbers or other sensitive personal or financial information were not part of this incident.” But two people were fired after Shopify found that “two rogue members” of their own support team were the ones who had taken the data.
Ray-Ban owner Luxottica
Ray-Ban’s owner Luxottica fell victim to a ransomware attack, which brought down its IT systems across Italy and China, reports TechRadar. The company is the parent of well-known sunglass brands including Ray-Ban and Oakley, as well as chains including LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.
Luxottica has stated that customer data was not affected by the attack, but customers had reported that they could not access the company’s branded sites.
A third party vendor, Blackbaud, was attacked in May 2020, and the impact is having a ripple affect through the U.S. and also the UK. That includes people who both donated to or received care from the Allina Health hospitals or Children’s Minnesota.
Hackers read through “a backup fundraising database,” that the Children’s Minnesota Foundation held, reports Infosecurity magazine. More than 200,000 names were in the database including donors and patients, along with addresses and may have also included birthdates, and the doctors who admitted or treated patients. Allina Health stated it also paid the hackers to get confirmation that the data had been destroyed.
Week of September 14: US Department of Veterans Affairs Office
This week, it was revealed that 46,000 veterans had been affected by an incident that saw their personal information illegally accessed via a breach of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office. The Financial Services Center announced that one of its online applications was “accessed by unauthorized users to divert payments to community health care providers for the medical treatment of veterans,” a statement by the Veterans Affairs office said.
The office added that a preliminary review found hackers had “gained access to the application to change financial information and divert payments from VA by using social engineering techniques and exploiting authentication protocols.”
The FSC is now alerted affected individuals, as well as their next-of-kin, and the department is offering access to credit monitoring services, for free, to those whose social security numbers may have been compromised.
It was also reported this week how a database containing the personal information of 10,000 Razer customers was left exposed and publicly accessible online. Razer is a video game hardware vendor, and the mistakenly exposed database contained information relating to purchases made through its website.
Although the database didn’t include credit card numbers, it still presented customer names, email and postal addresses, phone numbers, and information on what they had bought. If put into the wrong hands, the data could easily be used to conduct fraud via social engineering.
The database, which could be viewed online and was even indexed by public search engineers, was discovered in August by security researcher Volodymyr Diachenko. But despite repeated attempts to warn Razer about the database, his discovery wasn’t fixed until September 9.
Newhall School District computer system
Finally this week, it was reported how a ransomware virus took down a California school district computer system. The attack caused the shutdown of distance learning services for 6,000 elementary school students, according to an official for the Newhall School District in Valencia.
Mercury News reports how the attack affected all online learning in the district’s 10 elementary schools. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district is still operating a 100 percent digital learning system, making it difficult for classes to go ahead when the IT infrastructure is subject to a malware attack.
The district shut down its servers and messaged parents using an emergency notification system. It then announced via Instagram that education would temporarily be returning to pencil, paper and textbooks for affected students. Despite being described as a ransomware attack, no monetary demands had been made.
Week of September 7, 2020: Lloyds Bank
Lloyds Bank is taking a serious step, warning its customers that phishing attacks are targeting email and also text messages, which falsely claims that their bank accounts have been attacked. The message looks like it’s coming from a Lloyds Bank, but is not, according to Computer Weekly, and states that because of recent actions, the customer’s account has had a “temporary suspension,” and requires they take a step to re-open their account. That step includes logging on through a fake site, where passwords and other information are requested — and then captured.
Customers who receive messages like this — asking for them to login to sites that don’t look like the correct URL as their bank — would do well to pick up the phone, and call the main number for the bank on their debit card, for example, and request to speak to someone about their account.
NorthShore University HealthSystem
A breach of the NorthShore University Health System has potentially involved the personal data of nearly 350,000 people, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The breach involved a ransomware attack that took place between February 7 and May 20, and may have allowed hackers to gain access to names, contact details, birthday dates and even admission and discharge dates. But what was not involved were specific medical records of patients, the hospital system said. Additionally, credit cards and other financial details were not involved.
NorthShore only learned itself about the breach on July 22, after the vendor notified the system.
Applicants for the bar exam in Pennsylvania has sent a letter to the state’s Bureau of Consumer Protection claiming that since downloading the software to take the exam, they’ve been victimized by issues including password breaches and fraud, with charges showing up on their accounts that they did not make, according to Jurist. The software, called ExamSoft, collects data from those who are taking the exam, including Social Security numbers. The applicants want the company’s data security practices to be looked at, particularly as they cannot take the bar with any other company than ExamSoft, which is the only software platform for distributing the exam for many states, including Pennsylvania.
Week of August 31, 2020: Transport for New South Wales
Tens of thousands of driver licenses were mistakenly left exposed and publicly viewable on open cloud storage by Australia’s Transport for NSW, reported ABC this week. The storage folder was discovered by Ukrainian security consultant Bob Diachenko and contained color scans of the front and back of about 54,000 licenses.
The uncensored scans revealed names, photos, dates of birth and addresses of drivers, which could easily be used by malicious actors to commit acts of identity fraud, such as applying for credit in a victim’s name. A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the department is working with cyber security experts to investigate the trove of license scans, which appeared on an unprotected Amazon Web Services server.
“The breach is not associated with a NSW Government agency or any NSW Government system or process,” the spokesperson added.
This week saw the fixing of a critical vulnerability affecting 700,000 WordPress sites. The issues stemmed from the accidental inclusion of a test file which potentially allowed any unauthenticated user direct access to an affected website’s library. In turn, this left the affected WordPress sites open to attack where files could be uploaded, modified, and ultimately leaving the site open to a complete takeover, reported Sucuri.
The issue was with the elFinder package, an open-source file manager that has been installed by WordPress users over two million times. The vulnerability was mistakenly made available on May 5 and was only fixed on September 1.
Utah Pathology Services
A data breach reported in late-August saw the personal information of approximately 112,000 patients of Utah Pathology Services exposed online. A statement from the organization admitted the vulnerability was discovered when “an unknown party attempted to redirect funds from within Utah Pathology”.
This, KUTV reports, led to the discovery that patient information was visible to anyone. This data included patient dates of birth, gender, phone number, mailing address, email address, insurance information and, for some victims, their Social Security number.
Utah Pathology Services said that, “out of an abundance of caution,” it has notified all potentially affected patients, but said there is no evidence that any patient data has been misused.
Week of August 24, 2020: Instacart
Instacart is admitting that two employees at a third-party vendor tapped into shopper information more than they may have needed, the company has said. The two people looked at details of 2,180 shoppers including their names, email addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers and a thumbnail image of that ID.
Customer information was not involved in this breach, said Instacart — and the two employees did not store or capture the information on shoppers that they saw. Instacart said the two employees will not be working with their account any longer, and they also reached out to the shoppers, who can earn as little as $3.99 for each delivery that they make, to alert them, and also offer two years of free credit monitoring.
A breach of a third-party vendor in South Dakota, exposed very personal information about Covid-19 patients who live in the state, reports Infosecurity. The breach was actually of a shared database that the vendor and the Department of Health and law enforcement groups could both access, and the information was used to also help so responders could know if someone at the location where they were going had tested positive for coronavirus.
Personal information in this database includes a patient’s name, address, their birthdate and their Covid-19 status. The exposure is enough of a concern, that the FBI has started investigating.
FreePik, a site that offers up free stock photos and vectors for use on web sites and other projects has admitted a breach impacting one its other companies, called Flatiron. While users can find free icons and images, there is a paid premium tier which they can join.
Users of all levels were affected by the recent breach which captured the email addresses of 8.3 million users, along with hashed passwords of 3.55 million, and salted passwords of 229,000 users. The remainder had no passwords on file because they had logged in using Google, Facebook and or Twitter.
FreePik has notified anyone whose password — even salted or hacked — was affected to change these, although salted passwords were automatically cancelled. Those whose emails were seen were also notified, but not told they needed to change their passwords at all.
Week of August 17, 2020: Instagram, TikTok and YouTube
The names and contact information of over 230 million users if Instagram, TikTok and YouTube were compromised this week. Although not lifted directly from these services, the data was exposed by Social Data, a company that sells data on social media influencers to marketers.
Social Data says the data it held was publicly available, but social media companies have rules against so-called scraping, where public data is taken is huge quantities from user profile pages. The data, help of an unprotected database and discovered by Comparitech, included names, contact information, personal information, images and statistics about followers.
Experian, the consumer credit reporting agency, disclosed a data breach this week. Occurring at its South African branch, the breach impacted 24 million people and 793,749 local businesses, as personal details was unwillingly handed over to a fraudster posing as a client.
Personal information was exposed, but Experian says no financial or credit-related data was involved in the security breach. Experian said it had identified the suspect and obtained a court order which “resulted in the individual’s hardware being impounded and the misappropriated data being secured and deleted.”
Iconic London hotel the Ritz announced on August 15 that it had been the victim of a data breach three days earlier. The company said it was “aware of a potential data breach, which may have compromised some of our clients’ personal data. This does not include any credit card details or payment information.”
All affected customers have been notified by the Ritz, and the authorities are also involved. Fraudsters phoned up customers who had made restaurant reservations at the Ritz, pretending to be hotel staff, the BBC reported; they had also spoofed the company’s phone number.
In on case, a woman was contacted by fraudsters posing as hotel staff. They knew about her upcoming reservation, but said her credit card had been declined and asked for the details of a second payment method. The fraudsters then used this card to make several purchases of over £1,000 each at a retailer. The victim’s bank stopped these transactions, only for the fraudsters to contact her, posing as her bank, asking for the code sent by the bank to her phone to authorize the payments.
Week of August 10th: ProctorU
An online exam site has been involved in a data breach that affected more than 40,000 individuals, according to Bleeping Computer. The breach involved names, addresses, hasted passwords phone numbers and more. ProctorU is used by colleges and educators to monitor students online through software, webcams and microphones, to try and ensure they’re not cheating. The records were released on a hacker forum.
TikTok breached customer privacy by knowingly tracking MAC addresses for more than a year, according to a story this week in The Wall Street Journal. The behavior was hidden behind encryption tools, and the company did not inform users, which may be in violation of Google’s own requirements.
The group that trains people how to cyber security smart got hit by a data breach of its own after a phishing attack, reports Computer Weekly. SANS Institute lost 28,000 pieces of data, and is contacting those people who are affected. The attack occurred one on person’s email account, which allowed the hacker to forward 513 emails to another external email account before getting caught.
Week of August 3 2020: Canon
Canon this week informed its employees that it had fallen victim to a ransomware attack. The attack impacted several services, including Canon’s email system, Microsoft Teams account, USA website, and other internal applications, reports BleepingComputer. Additionally, users of Canon’s online image and video storage service, called image.canon, were informed that its mobile app and website would be temporarily suspended.
A ransom note sent to Canon suggests ransomware called Maze was used to attack its systems. Threats were made of going to news publications about the attack after three days, and releasing stolen data after seven days, unless the ransom as paid. The hackers claim to have stolen 10TB of data, including “private databases” from Canon, but hasn’t said what data these include, or what the ransom amount is.
Canon’s US website currently says it is down for maintenance, with the message: “We’re just busy improving our corporate site.” The page then links to the online store, which is also down for maintenance.
The Canon incident comes just days after Garmin, the fitness company, was also hit by a ransomware attack. Although not confirmed, the ransom was said to be $10M, according to sources of ThreatPost, and Garmin is claimed to have negotiated with the attackers, who go by the name of Evil Corp.
The attack began on July 23 and impacted Garmin’s fitness-tracker services, customer support outlets, and aviation services. Garmin’s systems were encrypted during the attack, locking the company out of its own data. Garmin said in a statement: “As a result, many of our online services were interrupted including website functions, customer support, customer facing applications, and company communications.”
Garmin says it has “no indication that any customer data, including payment information from Garmin Pay, was accessed, lost or stolen.” It was reported that the ransom originally stood at $10m, and later claimed that Garmin paid a “multi-million dollar ransom”, according to Sky News.
Three weeks on from hackers accessing Twitter’s own tools to spread a bitcoin scam through some of the service’s biggest accounts, a similar attack took place on YouTube this week. Posing as official live video streams showing NASA and SpaceX conduct their first space flight together, the YouTube videos instead promoting a “bitcoin giveaway,” seemingly in the names of Elon Musk and SpaceX.
Although not on the same scale of compromising the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama and Bill Gates, as happened last month, the YouTube scam took over the channel of technology reporter Jon Prosser (262,000 subscribers) and Croatian gaming YouTuber Fleymoz, among others. Prosser claimed hackers must have used a SIM-swap attack, where they create a SIM card using his phone number, which they then use to get around YouTube’s two-factor authentication system. All of his account’s videos were deleted in the incident.
Other accounts seemingly targeted include Sony gaming consultant Rod Breslau, and beauty influencer Talyta Rocha, who has 155,000 subscribers.
Week of July 20, 2020: Twitter (again)
Twitter admitted this week that last week’s attack on its backend system tools resulted in cybercriminals accessing the private direct messages of 36 people.
The admission comes in the wake of an unprecedented attack on Twitter that saw the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos and many other compromised and used to tweet about a bitcoin scam. Twitter initially said how 130 accounts were targeted by the hackers, who are understood to have accessed system tools used by staff at the social media company. Of those, 45 accounts were taken over by the hackers.
Now it believes the private direct-message inboxes of 36 Twitter users were accessed, including one belonging to an elected official in The Netherlands. Twitter has not said if the remaining 35 accounts were verified or not – verified accounts being those used by celebrities, politicians, companies, news publications, members of the media and other high-profile individuals.
- Twitter admits hackers accessed private message inboxes of 36 people
- Twitter’s own tools used by hackers in massive bitcoin scam attack
- Twitter sheds new light on hack, says 130 accounts targeted
Earlier in July, Morgan Stanley contacted current and former wealth management customers a two-year free subscription to a credit report monitoring service – action usually taken when a company has fallen victim to a data breach.
The bank did this, reports Advisor Hub, because of a concern over data not being fully removed from old servers by a recycling company it had hired. The issue, explained in a memo sent to the firm’s 15,400 brokers by field management head Vince Lumia, relates to servers and other hardware removed from two data centers that were closed in 2016.
The company hired a firm to safely erase all data from the equipment, but is now concerned this may have not been done properly, and data may still exist. Credit monitoring from Experian is being offered “out of an abundance of caution,” the bank says, and it is considering taking legal action against the unnamed firm hired to originally remove the data.
English Premier League
The UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre issued an annual report this week warning of the dangers posed by hackers and cybercriminals to professional sport. Although the report doesn’t name any specific clubs, it cites examples of cybercrime where stadium turnstiles have been blocked, training equipment was sold through a fraudulent version of eBay – and, most interestingly, an incident where £1M ($1.25M) was almost stolen from a Premier League soccer club.
The NCSC report, the first of its kind warning elite sport about the dangers of cybercrime, stated: “During a transfer negotiation with an overseas football team the email address of the managing director of a Premier League club was hacked by cyber criminals. Only a late intervention from the bank prevented the club losing almost £1M.”
Other incidents recorded in the last 12 months, the report continues, “included an attack which brought turnstiles of a football club to a standstill and almost led to the cancellation of a match, while a member of staff at a racecourse lost £15,000 in a scam involving the spoofing of eBay.”
Week of July 13, 2020: Twitter
Hackers took on Twitter this week, gaining access to the accounts of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and others through an attack that took place on July 15. The hack impacted far more than just these well-known accounts — it impacted many verified accounts. Twitter actually shut down access temporarily to those accounts so it could gain hold of the issue.
The hack involved social engineering, which is a way that hackers gain access by methods including phishing — such as an email pretending to from a bank, saying you need to click on a link and re-enter your password. But instead, the email is from a hacker.
In this case, the hackers sent a tweet asking people to put money into a bitcoin wallet — and in return would get double the money. They apparently got $110,000 worth of bitcoin paid into a wallet they were using from the attack.
An online auction site, LiveAuctioneers reports it has had a data breach of encrypted passwords, names, email address and more that happened on June 19. Passwords have been reset by the company, which also assured customers that credit cards numbers were not affected at all.
The 2019 hack of MGM Resorts looks to be 13 times bigger than originally reported, according to ZDNet. The company had said in February 2020 that 10.6 million accounts, including names and address and phone numbers of CEOs and celebrities, had been found — for sale — on a hacking forum. Now that number is thought to be north of 142 million. How much does the hacker want for the details on all of these guests? Just a bit more than $2,900. Change your password people.
Week of July 6 2020: ‘Keeper’ hacker group breaches 570 online stores
A group of hackers called Keeper is found to have broken into the websites of more than 570 online retailers. Mostly small and medium-sized businesses, the victims had malicious scripts inserted into their websites, which Keeper used to log payment card details entered by shoppers on the checkout page.
As per a report issued by threat intelligence firm Gemini Advisory, the group have been operating since at least April 2017, and are still active today, reports ZDnet. It was also found that almost 85 percent of the target websites operated stores running on top of the Magneto e-commerce platform. Some were small businesses, but others attracted between 500,000 and one million monthly visitors. The stores were located all over the world and sold items like clothing, electronics, wine and jewelry.
Gemini believes the Keep group have collected close to 700,000 card details, of which it found around 184,000 were mistakenly leaked through an insecure server. With card credentials worth an average of $10 each on the dark web, according to Gemini, the Keeper group has likely generated millions of dollars of revenue from the stolen data.
University of Michigan
In what is becoming on increasingly common story, University of Michigan students thought their email accounts had been hacked following a data breach in early July. But what had actually happened, according to the university, was that login credentials from historic data breaches, like those of Chegg, Zynga and LinkedIn, were to blame, reports the Detroit Free Press.
The issue was with students using their University of Michigan email address and password to log into those aforementioned services, which were then compromised, allowing anyone who knows those details to log into the students’ university email accounts.
This is what happened when Disney+ launched in late 2019 and users entered email address and password combinations they had already used with another service that had suffered a data breach. The same also happened with the video chat app House Party.
The University of Michigan said it had not suffered a data breach, and reminded students to never use the same password twice. A small number of students had their accounts reset and have been notified, the university said.
EDP Renewables North America
Renewable energy company EDP Renewables North America confirmed this week a ransomware attack had affected the system so fits parent company, Energias de Portugal, reports Security Boulevard.
A letter sent to customers said the attack took place on April 13, allowing hackers to gain access to information stored on the company’s servers. EDP didn’t become aware of the data breach until almost a month later, on May 8. Hackers left a ransom note demanding for more than $10m worth of bitcoin, in return for a decryption key to restore a claimed 10TB worth of stolen data. This data was claimed by the hackers to include “the most sensitive and confidential information about your transactions, billing, contacts, clients and partners”.
However, EDPR says it has found no evidence that client information was accessed. As a precaution, 12 months of free identity protection is being offered to all customers.
Week of June 29, 2020: CNY Works
A data breach of non-profit CNY Works, that helps people find jobs, may have may Social Security numbers and names of 56,000 people visible, reports Syracuse.com. The hack came in the form of a ransomware attack, and while CNY Works dis not find any sign that the data was actually viewed, it has started to send letters to those who they affected.
The attack goes back to 2019, after the agency found malware on their network. Although the malware was identified as ransomware, CNY Works said it has yet to receive a request for any payment.
University of California San Francisco
The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has admitted that “a security incident” hit its School of Medicine on June 1, but said it did not impact patient care, medical records — or research it’s doing on Covid-19.
The malware attack encrypted some of the school’s servers, and UCSF made the decision to pay some of the ransom — to the tune of $1.14 million to unlock the data. UCSF is working with law enforcement, which is investigating the incident.
Heartland Farm Mutual
An insurance company in Waterloo, Canada has admired that an employee’s email was compromised, which opened the door to some personal information of some clients, reports Global News. Heartland Farm Mutual said access to the email was unauthorized, but would not provide details on when the breach occurred. The company is offering to cover credit monitoring for a year of any client that’s been affected — and has reached out to them.
Week of June 22: EasyJet lawsuit
More than 100,000 people have joined a lawsuit against low-cost European airline EasyJet, after it was disclosed in May that data of nine million passengers may have been exposed.
Victims may be entitled to as much as £2,000 ($2,500) in compensation, reports Insurance Journal, making the case against EasyJet worth an estimated £18 billion. The airline admitted in May that the email addresses and travel data of nine million customers had been stolen by hackers. The credit card details of roughly 2,200 customers was also accessed unlawfully.
Yahoo data breach: File your claim by July 20
If you are a victim of the massive data breaches that saw the theft of Yahoo user data between 2012 and 2016, you have just a few weeks left to make your claim for compensation. You could be eligible for free credit monitoring service and/or up to $100, as part of a $117.5m class-action settlement.
The years-long data breach saw hackers gain access to roughly three billion Yahoo user accounts. Various breaches saw the theft of email accounts, calendars, passwords, names and contacts of users.
Those affected have until July 20, 2020 to file their claim for compensation at this website.
Twitter sorry to business clients
Twitter has emailed its business customers to apologize about a potential data breach. Billion information for some clients was stored in web browsers’ cache, Twitter admitted, making it “possible” that others could have accessed the information. That personal data included email addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of clients’ credit card numbers, reports the BBC.
The breach is said to affect businesses that use Twitter’s advertising and analytics platforms, but it isn’t yet clear how many businesses are impacted by the mishandling of data.
Week of June 15, 2020: Claire’s
Claire’s is a retail shop known for its hairbands and earrings. But its online site was hit with breach with hackers accessing payment information for customers, reports Total Retail. The hack took place when a script captured people’s payment details as they checked out online. Claire’s said it’s cleaned up the code from the site, and only affected the online retail side, not its stores.
In March of 2018, Claire’s filed bankruptcy, closing more than 150 stores. But it managed to restructure itself by the end of that year.
Online sports retailer Wiggle is admitting that some of its customer accounts were accessed online, with unauthorized people making purchases on the site, reports Cycling Industry News. The breach was discovered recently, although some customers on social media posted that they had found problems as early as May.
Wiggle is fitness site that sells everything from road bikes to swim goggles. The company is now saying that anyone making purchases going forward will have to re-enter their card details — rather than be allowed to use payment information already stored online.
Unless you’re a player of Roblox, an online gaming platform, you’re unlikely familiar with RBX.Place which is an online location where people can sell their in-game items. But hackers cracked into a database of people who sell items from the game in the real world, reports Motherboard.
Roblox itself is free to download and play — and there are thousands of games that users themselves actually create and then open up to others. There is a currency used in the game called Robux, which can buy things like clothes or other items in the game.
Hackers got a hold of a data from sellers, that includes email addresses, passwords that have been hashed (so you don’t see the actual password) and other data.
Week of June 8, 2020: Babylon Health
This week saw UK online health provider Babylon Health admit its video GP app had suffered a data breach. The problem became apparent when a Babylon user found they had been given access to dozens of video recordings of other patients’ consultations.
Babylon later said that a small number of other UK users were able to see others’ video consultations, too. Babylon user Rory Glover told the BBC: “I was shocked. You don’t expect to see anything like that when you’re using a trusted app. It’s shocking to see such a monumental error has been made.”
The London-based company apologized to affected users directly, and later said in a statement: “On the afternoon of Tuesday 9 June we identified and resolved an issue within two hours whereby one patient accessed the introduction of another patient’s consultation recording…This was the result of a software error rather than a malicious attack.”
A database containing five billion email addresses and passwords collected by a number of historical data breaches was temporarily exposed online. The incident occurred at UK-based cybersecurity firm Keepnet Labs, which legally collects usernames and passwords exposed by hacks and data breaches, to in a bid to help notify businesses when their credentials have been compromised.
Unfortunately, during scheduled maintenance in March 2020, a third-party IT engineer disabled a firewall for approximately 10 minutes, leading to the billions of usernames and passwords being visible online, and indexed by BinaryEdge, an internet indexing company. The next day, that 867GB trove of data could be freely accessed without a password “via an unprotected port,” reports Verdict.
The data included email addresses, passwords and information on what breach each piece of data came from.
Finally this week, Japanese carmaker Honda was it by a cyber attack thought to involve ransomware. Despite reports that some manufacturing efforts were halted to deal with the attack, Honda said no data had been compromised and said the attack caused “minimal business impact”.
The company said on Twitter on June 8: “Honda Customer Service and Honda Financial Services are experiencing technical difficulties and are unavailable.” Honda later said the “virus had spread” and “this is also an impact on production systems outside of Japan.”
Although best known for its cars, Honda also produces motorbikes, generators and lawn mowers, among other products.
Week of June 1, 2020: Minted
A data breach of Invitation site Minted exposed personal information of customers from email addresses to passwords. Luckily, those passwords were salted and hashed, meaning the actual characters could not be seen. But other customers also had their birth dates, telephone numbers and addresses seen as well.
The hack took place on May 6, 2020 and Minted knew about the breach a week later. But they did not not start telling customers until the end of that month, with some hearing by email in June. As with all data breaches, you should – if affected — take security steps to lock down your digital data, and also, you know we’re going to say it, change your password. Minted also has a toll-free hotline you can call if you have questions.
While travel is practically at a standstill around the world, Amtrak has still managed to be involved in a data breach, finding out about the issue in April, according to Security Boulevard. The breach involved Amtrak’s Guest Rewards accounts, and usernames, passwords and some personal information may have been viewed,” The National Railroad Passenger Corporation wrote in its notification to Vermont’s Attorney General.
Amtrak did state that it was able to cut access after a few hours, and has already reset passwords of anyone they believe has been affected. Amtrak customers who are concerned, can get 12 months of free identity theft monitoring.
Coincheck, a cryptocurrency exchange, stopped both withdrawals and sales briefly while it investigated a potential data breach, reports Cointelegraph. This is the same company that was hit with a hack in 2018, which ended up with $500 million in cryptocurrency stolen.
The data involved this time may have included birth dates, phone numbers and registration addresses as well as selfie IDs, which are photos people take of themselves holding government identification.
Week of May 25: Bank of America
This week Bank of America announced a data breach may have affected business clients’ information for the Paycheck Protection Program. The breach happened on April 22, as Bank of America uploaded PPP applications ono the US Small Business Administration’s test platform, reports Charlotte Business Journal.
The bank said application information may have been visible to other SBA-authorized lenders and their vendors. The exposed information could include business details like postal addresses and tax identification numbers, plus business owner’s information like their name, address, Social Security number, phone number, email and citizenship status.
Bank of America said: “There is no indication that your information may have been viewed or misused by these lenders or their vendors. And your information was not visible to other business clients applying for loans, or to the public, at any time.”
Eight billion Thai internet records exposed
A huge data breach was reported from Thailand this week, involving Advanced Info Services (AIS), the country’s largest cell network. Managed by a third party for AIS, the database contained real-time internet records of millions of customers; the data was accidentally made public in May during a scheduled test.
Security researcher Justin Paine said on the breach: “Over the course of the roughly three weeks the database has been exposed the volume of data has been growing significantly. The database was adding approximately 200 million new rows of data every 24 hours.” As of May 21, 8.3 billion documents were exposed.
Although the data did not contain personal information, Paine said how viewing it could “quickly paint a picture” of what someone may be doing online, and in real-time.
Finally for this week, a database containing over 26 million LiveJournal user accounts – including their passwords stored in plain text – is being shared for free on multiple hacker forums.
Bleeping Computer reports how the database was first stolen back in 2014, containing 33 million user credentials. Since approximately May 8, links to the data dump have been circulating on forums. According to those sharing it, the database contains email addresses, usernames, LiveJournal profile URLs, and passwords. Although originally stored as MD5 hashes, the passwords appear as plain text.
The database has been shared with Have I Been Pwned, the website that helps users discover if their usernames and passwords have been exposed online. If your details appear on that website, it is crucial that you change the passwords of any online services for which you still use the old, compromised password. Any LiveJournal user (past or present) should also change their password immediately, both on that service, and wherever they have used the same password again.
Week of May 18, 2020: Home Chef
Home Chef has admitted a data breach got hold of records on eight million of its customers. The data includes names, email information, encrypted passwords, and the last four digits of people’s credit cards, according to PYMNTS.
Home Chef sells customers weekly subscription meal kits. People are sent ingredients — and recipes — and they prepare their own meals at home.
Home Chef is now telling customers they should change their passwords.
Low-cost airline EasyJet has also been hit with a data breach with hackers getting access to credit and debit card details. They first knew about the hack in January, but were only able to tell people in early April, according to the BBC.
The company, which is known for its incredibly low-cost flights in Europe, said they wanted to figure out how bad the hack had been before telling people. But they say that everyone who has been involved will be told by May 26.
GoDaddy, one of the best known web hosting companies, has been hacked the company has admitted. About 28,000 customers have ha their data stolen through the breach which happened on October 29, 2019 — and continued for six months until April 23, 2020, reports CPO Magazine.
GoDaddy says the hacker has been blocked now, and claims that files were not added or changed on people’s accounts. The company has also reset all of user names and passwords of the people involved. They’re also suggesting customers check their own hosting accounts to make sure their okay as well.
Week of May 11 2020: Magellan Health
US healthcare giant Magellan Health revealed this week it has been the victim of a data breach and a ransomware attack. The Fortune 500 insurance company said how the attackers first issued a phishing email campaign on its staff.
This then gave the attackers access to Magellan’s systems, from which they stole login credentials and passwords of some current staff. Personal data of staff was also stolen, including names, addresses and employee ID numbers. Some Social Security numbers and Taxpayer ID numbers were also taken.
In a letter sent to victims Magellan said: “Once the incident was discovered, Magellan immediately retained a leading cybersecurity forensics firm, Mandiant, to help conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. The investigation revealed that prior to the launch of the ransomware, the unauthorized actor exfiltrated a subset of data from a single Magellan corporate server, which included some of your personal information.”
This week it was reported that, earlier in the month, Interserve was hit by a cyber attack which saw the data of 100,000 people stolen. Interserve is one of the UK government’s “strategic suppliers”, and is responsible for maintaining schools and hospitals, as well as transport networks like the London Underground.
Interserve recently helped with the formation of the Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, a field hospital built in a convention center for coronavirus patients.
It was first reported by the Telegraph that the hum resources database of the outsourcing firm was broken into on May 9, and information on current and former staff was stolen. The data included names, addresses, bank details, payroll information, next of kin details, HR records, dates of absences and pension information.
Interserve acknowledged the data breach in a statement and said it is working with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre to remedy the situation.
City Index informed users this week of a data breach which saw the theft of their names, dates of birth, gender and bank details. City Index is a London-based financial trading and spread better service provider.
The company told its users on May 8 that its network “was accessed by an unauthorized third party and client personal data may have been viewed,” reports Infosecurity Magazine. City Index added that, upcon discovering the breach, which took place on April 14, it “shut down access to the server connected and launched a full forensic investigation.”
City Index users are urged to reset their passwords, and make sure the same password previously used to access their City Index account isn’t currently being used for anything else.
Week of April 27: Chegg
Educational technology company Chegg has suffered a third data breach in just three years, as it admits hackers stole the personal details of 700 current and former employees. The data included their names and Social Security numbers. For context, the company had around 1,40 employees at the start of 2020, reports TechCrunch.
Paul Martini, CEO of cloud cybersecurity company ibos, told GearBrain: “This attack may be reflective of a larger coming cybersecurity trend that should worry employers and employees alike. Over the last few months, a massive increase in people working from home has left organizations particularly vulnerable to hackers and if this attack was related to a remote employee, we’re going to see a lot of IT people lose sleep..organizations of all sizes face a difficult and dangerous future.”
Nintendo confirmed on April 24 that attackers had accessed 160,000 user accounts since earlier in the month. In reaction, the company temporarily disabled the ability to log into the accounts through a Nintendo Network ID. It said the login IDs and passwords were “obtained illegally by some means other than our service,”
This now tallies with a claim by SpyCloud, a cyber security company, that says the hack was likely the result of credential stuffing. This is where usernames and passwords already stolen through a previous data breach at a different company, are then used again by their owner somewhere else, like for a Nintendo account. Hackers repeatedly and automatically use these credentials to log into accounts, and in this case were successful with 160,000 Nintendo accounts, as their owners had used the same passwords before.
According to SpyCloud, 59 percent of people admit to using the same passwords.
UK license plates
It was revealed this week that the details of millions of journeys made by private individuals across the UK could be freely accessed online. This is because a system used to automatically log vehicle license plates as they pass a roadside camera, known in the UK as ANPR, was storing its data on a server with no password.
The data, and therefore journeys and locations of millions of vehicles, could be accessed by entering the IP address of the server into an internet browser. In total, 8.6 million journeys could be viewed. The data specifically came from the ANPR system of Sheffield, a city in the north of England. Hackers could have used the data to track individual vehicles through the city, putting vulnerable people at risk. The name and location data of cameras could also be changed, which could have led to wrongful convictions.
Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police said in a joint statement: “We take joint responsibility for working to address this data breach. It is not an acceptable thing to have occurred. However, it is important to be very clear that, to the best of our knowledge, nobody came to any harm or suffered any detrimental effects as a result of this breach.”
Week of April 20, 2020: Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may have been hit by a data breach, and affected about 8,000 people who had applied for emergency funds to help offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. What’s data is now vulnerable? CNN reports that it could include Social Security numbers, birth dates, insurance information, names, their email addresses and even where they live and their citizen status.
Applicants were told if they were involved in the breach on April 13 through a letter — and told they would be given a year of free credit monitoring as a result.
A chain of sandwich shop in New Jersey has found a breach that happened over a series of month to its system. Customer payment information that allowed people to place online orders was involved, and the breach took place between July 15, 2019 and February 18, 2020. Not only were numbers potentially seen, but also security codes, expiration dates, names and addresses. PrimoHoagies told customers that only data from online purchases were involved, not those made inside physical stores, reports the Courier Post.
A children’s gaming platform had a breach that released nearly 23 million user names and hashed passwords — information that’s been scrambled from its original form.
Webkinz World is a virtual space children can enter, that connects to a plush toy. Inside are games and adventures kids can play — and they need to have a password and user name to get online. The company has demanded that all passwords be updated on the site before people can re-log on to their accounts.
Week of April 13: Quidd
Quidd, a digital collectibles trading platform, has suffered a data breach resulting in the login credentials of almost four million users appearing on a dark web hacking forum. The data included Quidd usernames, email addresses and passwords, although these were reportedly hashed, according to Teiss. The email addresses belonged to professionals from companies like Microsoft, Experian, Target and the University of Pennsylvania.
Despite being hashed, it is being reported that hackers have already cracked more than a million of the stolen passwords, and another hacker is currently selling 135,000 of the Quidd passwords.
According to experts Risk Based Security, the data was stolen from Quidd by hacker group ProTag, and was uploaded to the forum on March 12, 2020. Adverts were displayed on the dark web about the stolen database as far back as October 2019.
Wappalyzer, a technology company that lets users scan websites to receive a report of information like the type of server it uses, has been the victim of a cyber attack. The disclosure of the hack comes a week after hackers began emailing Wappalyzer’s customers, offering to sell a stolen database for $2,000 in bitcoin.
The database contains Wappalyzer customer email and billing addresses, but the company told ZDnet that it contained information on just 16,000 customers. Wappalyzer says the hack took place on January 20 when an intruder accessed one of its databases, which was left exposed due to a misconfiguration, the company said.
As well as reportedly containing user email addresses, the stolen database includes technographic data, which is data collected by Wappalyzer and sold as part of its product offering to customers.
San Francisco International Airport
SFO contacted users of two of its websites this week to tell them they had been the victims of a cyber attack. The websites are SFOConnect.com and SFOConstruction.com, and are said to both be relatively low-traffic websites. The attack is believed to have taken place in March, reports ThreatPost.
The airport said this week: “The attackers inserted malicious computer code on these websites to steal some users’ login credentials. Users possibly impacted by this attack include those accessing these websites from outside the airport network through Internet Explorer on a Windows-based personal device or a device not maintained by SFO.”
It added that it “appears the attackers may have accessed the impacted users’ usernames and passwords used to log on to those personal devices.”
Week of April 6, 2020: RigUp
A company, focused on the energy sector, helped people find jobs in that market — but is now a victim of a breach that exposed 76,000 files from those clients. Those files reportedly never made it into a public view, luckily, but inside were details dating back to July 2018 including employee resumes, private family photos, W9 forms, insurance policy data, Social Security numbers and more.
Found by vpnMentor, the breach has now been secured. But anyone doing business with RigUp may want to contact the company about what it’s doing next to ensure the data it has in its systems is better locked down.
Hackers are taking advantage of people’s fears and worries around the coronavirus pandemic, sending phishing texts and emails that promise relief funds from the government, or trackers that turn out to be malware. Emails look to be coming from the World Health Organization, or doctors, and everyone from individuals to businesses are being targeted.
The best thing for anyone to do today, given the fact that most people are online even more than usual, and from typically less secure networks than those used at the office, is to stop opening, or sending attachments — and to go directly to government sites through a search engine, than through a link they’ve received online.
Hammersmiths Medicine Research
Case in point? A medical facility tapped to do some live Coronavirus vaccines has been victimized by ransomware — with their data stolen and held for hostage. Volunteers whose last names started with D,G, I or J had their records stolen from Hammersmiths Medicine Research, and personal details in them as well including their date of birth, passport information and even in some cases some health records, reports ComputerWeekly. The medical facility has refused to pay the ransom.
Week of March 30, 2020: Marriott
Marriott has a data breach that is impacting more than five million guests, with details from names to birth dates part of the get. The breach took place between mid-January and February of 2020, and happened after someone used log-in details of two employees at a franchise of the hotel chain, said Marriott.
While financial details weren’t impacted, like credit cards, guests’ loyalty programs, like airline frequent flyer details including those account numbers, were involved along with mailing addresses. Marriott says it will be notifying people who were impacted by the breach. And while they say passwords weren’t involved — definitely change yours.
As great as Zoom has turned out to be, connecting people to friends, family, loved ones and co-workers, it has also ended with some not nice bugs — with people Zoombombing. People have been gaining access to Zoom calls, filling the screens with sounds and even pornographic imagery, that’s not always appreciated.
To add insult, security researchers have found exploits, including one reported by TechCrunch that allows hackers to take over the webcam and microphone of Mac users.
Zoom says it’s actually halting all new features for 90 days while it works to beef up security and privacy. Part of the problem, Zoom notes, is that its user based is up from about 10 million a day before the coronavirus pandemic took hold to about 200 million now.
WhatsApp users are reportedly getting tricked into turning over login credentials to hackers. Those hackers who have broken into social media accounts, like Facebook, are tricking that person’s contacts into handing over their own WhatsApp details — which the hacker can then use, reports Android Authority.
This is kind of a version of phishing, and truthfully it can happen to anyone, regarding any of their accounts. It’s always a good idea to never send your personal details to people over digital methods like email, text or, yes, WhatsApp.
Week of March 23, 2020 – Mystery database exposes 200M Americans
A database owned by an unknown party was discovered this week with 800GB of personal user information exposed to the public. The database, which was discovered by a research team by CyberNews, contained personal information belonging to 200 million Americans.
The data included a broad range of personal information, including:
- Full name and title
- Email addresses
- Phone numbers
- Dates of birth
- Credit ratings
- Home address
- Number of children
- Personal and political interests
It is thought that much of the data has come from the US Census Bureau. CyberNews said of the leak: “It’s difficult to understate the massive effect this data leak can have on hundreds of millions of people in the US. The data exposed by the unidentified party is a virtual gold mine for anyone with a penchant for cybercrime.
“Merely selling these records on darknet marketplaces at the below-average asking price of $1 per record would net the seller about $200 million. If utilized by cybercriminals to its full destructive potential, however, this data leak can result in untold billions in damages for defrauded users.”
Data belonging to current and former employees of General Electric was publicly accessible for 10 days in February. A third party gained access to an email account that contained sensitive information between February 2 and 14, reports ITPro.
The data of current and former workers included:
- Direct deposit forms
- Driver’s licenses
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Death certificates
- Medical child support orders
- Tax withholding forms
It is also thought that the data also included names, addresses, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and dates of birth. “After learning of the issue, we quickly began working with Canon [Business Process Services] to identify the affected GE employees, former employees and beneficiaries.”
Data Deposit Box
Detailed private information about 270,000 people who have used cloud storage company Data Deposit Box appeared online in late-2019. The data was discovered on December 25 and remained online until January 6.
More than 270,000 files were exposed, according to SecurityMagazine, with some leaked information dating from 2016 to the present day. Data included login credentials (usernames and unencrypted passwords), IP addresses, email addresses and GUIDs (globally unique identifies for resources).
Some information about files stored on the website by users was also accessible. This included file names, type, size and the date they were last modified.
Week of March 16, 2020: Princess Cruises
As if Princess Cruises doesn’t have enough going on after being shut down from the coronavirus, the cruise line, owned by Carnival Corp, has now admitted that a possible data breach hit its system from April 11 to July 23, 2019. After gaining access to employee email accounts, Princess Cruises said the hacker was able to then see personal details on other crew members, employees and most keenly guests.
Social security numbers, passport numbers, driver’s license information, financial account details and more were potentially visible. The company has posted the details on its web site, and encouraged anyone concerned that they get in touch with the company. And in the meantime, start using a password checker — while you also start changing those passwords. Yes, again.
TrueFire, a site that offers guitar lessons and tutorials online, discovered that it had a breach that spanned about six month — from August 2019 to January 2020. That left the personal data on more than one million users open including credit cards numbers, names, addresses and even security codes, among other details.
Nothing on the site gives any indication about the breach which TrueFire said it discovered on January 10, 2020. But it has sent letters to people who were affected, according to Guitar.com which said it heard form one of the users.
TrueFire is telling users to monitor their credit card statements.
Department of Health and Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that it had spent Sunday and Monday fighting against a hacking attempt on its system, reported The New York Times. The department claimed, on Monday, that the attack had not worked — but coming at a time when health groups globally are trying to work on fighting the coronavirus, the attempt was badly timed, at the least.
Officials are trying to figure out who was being the attack, concerned about attempts that could impact information being shared by medical experts to fight the virus spread. But experts have been warning already that cybercriminals have been attempting to take advantage of coronavirus fears to spread malware.
Week of March 9: Eight million eBay and Amazon shopping records exposed
Our lead story this week is of a database, accidentally made public, which contained eight million shopping records from Amazon eBay, PayPal, Shopify and Stripe.
The data, which could be found using a regular search engine, was mistakenly exposed by an unnamed third-party firm conducting cross-border value-added-tax (VAT) analysis. The majority of the data came from UK and European online shopping, and it included names, shipping addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, items purchased, payments, order IDs, links to Stripe and Shopify invoices, and the last four digits of credit card numbers.
The unencrypted database was indexed by search engines on February 2, then discovered by cybersecurity firm Comparitech a day later, with Amazon immediately notified. The database was then shut down by its owner on February 8.
Dutch government loses data of 6.9M registered donors
External computer hard drives storing data of 6.9 million registered organ donors from February 1998 to June 2010 were admitted lost this week. Last used in 2016, the pair of drives were placed in a secure vault, but this week the Dutch Minister of Health, Wellness and Sport admitted they had gone missing earlier in 2020, reports ZDnet.
The data includes first and last names, gender, date of birth, address at the time of registration, choice for organ donations, ID numbers and a copy of the person’s signature. Although missing, Dutch officials said there was no evidence yet of the data being used for identity theft or fraud.
Secret-sharing app Whisper exposes 900 million user records
Whisper, once a hugely popular smartphone app where users could anonymously share secrets, left private and sensitive information about hundreds of millions of people in a public database for years.
The database, which had no password and could be accessed by anyone, included users’ nicknames as well as their age, gender, ethnicity, location, and information on what groups they were a part of on the app. Many of Whisper’s chat groups are about sexual relationships and orientation. The report claims 1.3 million users in the database listed their age as 15.
Once describing itself as “the safest place on the internet”, Whisper launched in 2012, is available for iOS and Android, and although not as popular today it had three billion monthly page views by late 2013. Most of its users are aged 18 to 24 and predominantly female.
As well as users’ hometowns, the data included the GPS coordinates of where each user submitted their most recent post.
Week of March 2, 2020: Virgin Media exposes data on almost 1 million people
Details on nearly 1 million people were accessible online for ten months in a Virgin Media database, the company announced Thursday. While passwords and financial details weren’t involved, phone numbers, birthdate, email addresses and home addresses were stored in the database.
How did this happen? Virgin Media said the database had been Virgin Media said it shut down access to the database, but not before finding out some details had been “accessed without permission.” The company said it had already notified the 900,000 people involved, who appear to be getting text messages.
T-Mobile hack accesses details on customers and employees
What T-Mobile is calling “a malicious attack,” compromised details on customers and employees, with a hacker gaining access to details about email accounts, which include customer names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, rate plans and billing information. What wasn’t involved? Credit card and Social Security numbers.
T-Mobile did say that they were able to shut down the attack, and while they’re trying to get a wholesaled of customers, they’re encouraging people to reach out if they want to know if their details were involved in the hack. Crucially, T-Mobile is reporting they have no evidence that the data gleaned has been “misused” at this time.
J.Crew hacked in 2019, company says now
Retailer J.Crew may be known for its style hacks, but this time the company was a victim of a different kind of hack, one that left financial information exposed on customers. The attack took place around April 2019, and J.Crew and is just now telling customers about the problem. Compromised are the last four digits of credit card numbers, expiration dates, the kind of payment card involved, plus email and physical addresses, as well as passwords.
What should you do? What you should always do — Change. Your. Password.
Week of February 24, 2020: Clearview AI
Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI contacted clients this week to admit its entire client list had been stolen by an intruder. The company was the subject to an in-depth New York Times report in January which claimed it held over three billion images of members of the public, gathered up by scraping them from publicly-viewable social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others – a breach of their terms and conditions.
Clearview said in a statement that data thefts like this are now “a part of life”. As well as the client list, data on how many Clearview each customer had, and how many times they had searched the image database, was also taken.
- Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI just had its entire client list stolen
This week also saw Samsung admit to exposing the personal information of 150 customers on its UK website. The bizarre data leak was blamed on a “technical error”, and the data exposed to the public included names, phone numbers, postal and email addresses, and previous orders made through Samsung’s UK online store.
Thankfully, the company said user credit card information was not exposed. Customers affected will be contacted, Samsung said.
Slickwraps, a company that makes customized vinyl skins for phones and other devices, admitted this week it had fallen victim to a data breach. The admission came after Slickwraps customers reported they had received an email claiming to be from the company, but which was in fact written by a hacker who had gained access to its customer database.
The email appears to have been sent to 377,428 addresses, and the sender claimed they had gained access to Slickwraps’ customer database by reading a now-deleted Medium post written by a seemingly different hacker who explained how they had accessed the database via a vulnerability.
In a blog post, Slickwraps said the data was “mistakenly made public via an exploit” and it included names, plus postal and email addresses. However, it assured customers that their financial data had not been accessed.
Week of February 17, 2020: MGM Resorts data shows up on hacking web site
You can never truly be free of a data breach as some of MGM Resort’s former guests are now discovering. The chain announced this week that more than 10.6 million guests were caught in a data breach in 2019, and now have much of their personal information on a hacker’s forum — from names to phone numbers, and even including birth dates.
The data base is from guests who stayed at the MGM Resorts prior to 2017, and they include some well-known names from Justin Bieber to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Those who had originally been caught up in the breach had initially been contacted by MGM Resorts in August 2019.
U.S. Department of Defense (Yes, really)
An agency inside the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) were affected by a data breach which may have included their Social Security number. The department, the Defense Information systems Agency — or DISA — contacted those involved in mid-February about the breach which happened between May and July 2019, reports Reuters, which saw the letter sent by the agency.
DISA’s role, according to its web site, is to manage the way information is shared, managed and transmitted for the DoD, including communications for the president.
ISS World hacked
ISS World, which provides cleaning, catering, management and other support services, has fallen victim to malware, the company is stating on its web site. While customer data doesn’t appear, for now, to be affected, businesses that use its IT services are likely finding those options dark as ISS has “disabled access,” it said.
ISS owns companies across the world including the U.S.-based catering company Guckenheimer and another catering firm, Apunto, based in Chile.
Week of February 10, 2020: Estée Lauder
This week, a huge and completely unprotected customer database owned by US cosmetic firm Estée Lauder was spotted by cybersecurity researchers at Security Discovery.
The database contained more than 440 million data entries, all appearing in plaintext. These entries included email addresses, references, internal documents, IP addresses, storage information and other data that looks to have come from a company-run content management system.
Customer data wasn’t compromised, but the accidental leaking of so much company data is still a major concern. Estée Lauder said in a statement: “On 30 January 2020, we were made aware that a limited number of non-consumer email addresses from an education platform were temporarily accessible via the internet. This education platform was not consumer facing, nor did it contain consumer data. We have found no evidence of unauthorized use of the temporarily accessible data.”
South African financial service group Nedbank said this week that it is investigating a data breach related to Computer Facilities, a direct marketing company. Computer Facilities send SMS and email marketing information to customers on behalf of Nedbank and other clients.
Nedbank said in a statement how “a subset of the potentially compromised data at Computer Facilities included personal information (names, ID numbers, telephone numbers, physical and/or email addresses) of some Nedbank clients.”
The company is keen to point out that no Nedbank systems or client bank accounts were compromised “in any manner whatsoever”. Forensic experts have been hired to conduct an investigation, Nedbank says.
Nine-year-old’s identity stolen after data breach
Finally, an example of what can happen if your personal information is caught up in a data breach. A recent data breach at Health Share of Oregon led to the identity of nine-year-old boy being stolen, then used to unlawfully open a US Bank Credit Card in his name.
The card arrived at the family home soon after the boy’s mother learned of the data breach. Speaking to Katu 2 news, Kristen Matthews said: “This is not OK, especially for a child. This is not OK. I immediately started seeing red because I never signed up for any of this.”
The account was later closed by US Bank, but the incident serves as a demonstration of how stolen or mistakenly leaked personal data can be used. Matthews added: “There are other victims out there, though. There could be other cards being sent out to people.”
Week of February 3, 2020: Don’t click on the Coronavirus phishing attack
Hackers are preying on fears about the Coronavirus, with a new phishing attack designed to look like an email from the World Health Organization. Needless to say, the message is not from the United Nations agency, but instead an attempt to get people to click on a link that takes them to a pop up asking them to type in their email address and password, according to Sophos.
The specific message actually includes a number of grammatical mistakes — something to watch for if you’re getting an email from an official group, such as the World Health Organization. There are also words that are spelled wrong.
While people are concerned about the coronavirus, clicking on a link through an email — that you didn’t request —is still not the best course of action. Instead, we recommend going to different web sites directly, and not through a link.
Ashley Madison breach affects still felt
A new attack is affecting those whose names, passwords, credit card details and phone numbers were hacked from the Ashley Madison data breach of five years ago. Now some of the 32 million accounts are being targeted — personally — through emails scam that threatening to expose people if they don’t pay a Bitcoin ransom, according to Threatpost, pointing to a post from Vade Secure which discovered the scam.
The demand is for about $1,165 in Bitcoin, which is hidden in an attachment in the email, and also includes a QR code which are often not caught by email filters. The email demands the payment in six days, or the information about the person will be released.
Vade Secure has detected hundreds of these in the past week, and expects to see more of them in the coming months.
St. Louis Community College breach impacts thousands
A data breach at St. Louis Community College in Missouri has affected more than 5,100 people, including details such as birth dates, college IS numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and for 71 people, their Social Security numbers, according to local news site KSDK.com. The college told people about the hack, which occurred through a phishing attack, and that they had been able to lock down accounts again within about 72 hours.
While the school has said it will get in touch with those affected by the hack, anyone who is a student or has an affiliation with the college, should get in touch with them as well.
Week of January 27, 2020: Wawa Inc
Wawa, the U.S. fuel and convenience store, admitted in December 2019 that it had been the victim of a nine-month-long data breach, leading to the theft of customer card data. Now, it is claimed these stolen card records are being sold online.
The Wawa customer records are said to be among a huge batch of 30 million card accounts from over 40 states offered up for sale. They are claimed to be from “a new huge nationwide breach,” reports Krebs on Security.
Data exposed by the breach includes debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates, and cardholder names. PINs and CVV numbers were not exposed, Wawa claimed.
We urge readers who use Wawa to keep an eye on their card statements and report any suspicious transactions to their bank or card issuer.
The United Nations
It was reported this week that The United Nations fell victim to a suspected state-funded cyberattack in July, but did not inform the public or affected employees.
According to confidential documents leaked to The New Humanitarian, the attack could have affected up to 4,000 UN employees. Compromised data included staff records, health insurance and commercial contract data.
It is reported that hacked gained access to the data through a flaw in Microsoft SharePoint and used malware to gather up data from UN servers in three of its European offices. Staff were advised to change their passwords, but were not told why.
In 2019, data breaches increased 17 percent
Finally this week, a year-end report by the Identity Theft Resource Center revealed that the number of US data breaches increased by 17 percent in 2019 to 1,473, compared to 2018.
According to the report, the year saw 164,683,455 sensitive records exposed, which was a 65 percent increase on 2018. What’s particularly interesting here is how the Marriott hotel data breach of 2018 accounted for 383 million of that year’s 471 million stolen records, further demonstrating the marked increase in data theft in 2019.
“The increase in the number of data breaches during 2019, while not surprising, is a serious issue,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “It would appear that 2018 was an anomaly in how many data breaches were reported and the number of records exposed. The 2019 reporting year sees a return to the pattern of the ever-increasing number of breaches and volume of records exposed.”
Week of January 20, 2019: Microsoft exposes 250 million records
Microsoft left 250 million records open on a data — and admitted it in a blog post. The breach was open from December 5, 2019 to December 31, 2019, and contained details about “support case analytics,” said the company, and personal details had been “redacted.”
While Microsoft wouldn’t say how many records were involved, a site called Comparitech, which claims to have uncovered the breach, said there were 250 million records. Inside were conversation details between agents and customers that dated back to 2005 — far earlier than the December 5, 2019 Microsoft admitted to in its statement. And they reached out to Microsoft on December 29, 2019, they said.
Microsoft itself referred to the situation as a “misconfiguration,” and that no “personally identifiable information” was exposed to the outside world. However, IP addresses and locations were available to see.
THSuite cannabis dispensary breach
A point-of-sale system used by cannabis dispensaries suffered a data breach — with some leaving buyers information from names to birth dates exposed, and occasionally the employee’s name who helped them, according to a new report from VPN Mentor.
More than 85,000 files were exposed which included more than 30,000 records from the following dispensaries: Amedicanna Dispensary, Colorado Grow Company and Bloom Medicinals. But VPN Monitor warned that additional dispensaries could have been involved. The information that was breach differed between the different dispensaries. But in some cases the customers signature was captured, along with birth dates and Medical ID numbers.
VPN Mentor tracked the breach to an Amazon S3 bucket that had been unsecured. The database was closed on January 14, 2020. But any customer of three dispensaries should keep an eye on their email for possible phishing exploits.
UPS Store exposes customer financial records and ID
UPS is emailing customers admitting that some customers records at about 100 stores were exposed through a phishing hack. The attack involved details in emails that had been sent to UPS for printing and other requests, and in some cases included government-issued ID and even some financial details.
The breach happened between September 29, 2019 and January 13, 2020, when a hacker was able to access the email accounts of UPS stores. The company said it’s using a third-part cybersecurity firm to help investigate the incident. And in the meantime, UPS is offering affected customers free credit monitoring and identify theft assistance.
Equifax has agreed to put aside at least $380.5 million as compensation for victims of a 2017 data breach which saw 147 million US consumers compromised.
The company has also laid out plans to spend $1 billion on revamping its information security over the next five years. Consumers who believe they were affected by the breach have a week (from January 15) to file a claim for compensation. How much they receive will depend on how many people file.
The 2017 incident, which saw personal data including Social Security Numbers compromised, was blamed by Equifax on a buggy component of a server, for which a patch was available at the time but not applied.
The money will be used to pay for credit monitoring services for affected consumers, and individuals may be entitled to up to $20,000 in compensation, but only if they can provide proof that the data breach affected them financially.
An app aimed and new parents and designed for cataloguing baby photos and videos left masses of data exposed on an insecure server for all to see. The app, called Peekaboo, was found to have exposed more than 100GB of data, including the email addresses of users, but also photos and videos of babies.
An estimated 800,000 email addresses were exposed by the insecure server, along with location data accurate to about 30 feet, effectively revealing where people had used the app on their smartphone. The insecure server was discovered by Dan Ehrlich of computer security company Twelve Security.
Ehrlich told BankInfoSecurity: “I’ve never seen a server so blatantly open. Everything about the server, the company’s website and the iOS/Android app was both bizarrely done and grossly insecure.”
The app developer has since secured the server and said it would check its systems for any other security issues.
Western Australian bank P&N Bank informed customers this week of a data breach which exposed their personal information. Data unlawfully accessed include customer names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, ages, account numbers, and account balances.
Other personal records like ID and credit card numbers were not accessed, the bank said, adding that it believes the data was targeted on or around December 12, during a server upgrade. A company the bank hired to provide hosting is believed to have been the attackers’ entry point, reported ZDnet.
The bank stresses that, at this point, it appears that no customer accounts or funds were accessed or compromised. It is now working with law enforcement and federal authorities to work out exactly what happened. It isn’t yet known how many customers were affected.
Week of January 6, 2020: City of Las Vegas
Right as the biggest tech show in the world kicked off, CES 2020, the city that hosted it gave notice that it, in fact, had been victim of a data breach, reported local channel KTNV. The actual breach happened at 4: 30 am local time, and Las Vegas warned that some services may be interrupted as a result. But by Wednesday, the city gave the all clear, and tweeted that it didn’t think any data was actually taken or lost, but still couldn’t point at how the breach happened, and who was responsible.
Google pays $7.5 million
Google is paying $7.5 million for data leaks from its former Google+ platform dating back to 2018, reports Law 360. About half a million people who used the platform had some personal details breached, where third-party developers were able to see profile data. But the company didn’t tell anyone for seven months.
Bubba Gump parent company hacked
Landry’s the parent company for Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Morton’s The Steakhouse is reporting a data breach on its machines in its restaurants, the company reported. Malware on order entry systems, and not the main payments systems, was able in “some instances,” according to Landry’s to glean payment card details, although not someone’s name. These issues happened as early as January 18, 2019 but stopped by October 17, 2019. Anyone who has eaten at a Landry’s chain should, of course, monitor their credit cards for charges.
May I add that geoFence is the solution for blocking NFCC countries and that’s no joke!