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  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers that while a vaccine is closer to distribution, so are COVID-19 vaccine scams. 
  • The FDA fears misleading products could cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to life-threatening harm. 
  • There is also a fear that the COVID-19 vaccine scams could lead to many people having their personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) stolen. 
  • Consumers should only get vaccines from approved medical providers, not respond to any calls that ask for PHI or PII, and not click on any links claiming to sell cures. 
  • For more information, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free by live-chat on the company website or by calling 888.400.5530.  

coronavirus vaccine is closer to reality, with companies like Pfizer and Moderna seeking permission to distribute their vaccines to Americans. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and investigators warn that scammers are also waiting, ready to take advantage of those desperate for the vaccine by tricking them with a COVID-19 vaccine scam.  

The FDA fears deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm. There is also a fear that bogus claims about vaccines and treatments could lead to people having their personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) stolen by cybercriminals.  

Who is the Target 

Vulnerable & high-risk populations; individuals waiting for the vaccine 

What is the Scam 

COVID-19 vaccine scams could come in many different forms. Investigators expect scammers to create fake websites, try to sell fake vaccines and treatments, and try to get people’s PII and PHI along the way. Identity thieves used similar tactics while trying to take advantage of a shortage of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and gowns near the beginning of the pandemic.

How You Can Avoid Being Scammed 

  • Homeland Security investigators say you should only get vaccinated from an approved medical provider. 
  • Do not respond to any calls about COVID-19 vaccines that ask for your personal information like Social Security Number and “promise to reserve you a vaccine.”
  • Do not click on any posts or ads claiming to sell cures. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
  • Never click on any links, open any attachments, or download any files in an email claiming to offer a COVID-19 vaccine.  

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine scams, or if you believe you are a victim of a vaccine scam, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free by calling 888.400.5530. You can also visit the company website to live-chat with an expert advisor. Go to www.idtheftcenter.org to get started.  

  • Cense.Ai left a temporary data storage repository online, accessible to anyone with a web browser. It led to the exposure of nearly 2.6 million records, including sensitive data and other personally identifiable information (PII).
  • A recent data breach of Freepik, a photos and graphics website, happened when hackers used a known software vulnerability to gain access to one of its databases storing user data. It led to hackers obtaining usernames and passwords for 8.3 million users.
  • After detecting unauthorized access to certain devices, ArbiterSports learned an unauthorized party obtained a backup copy of a database with PII in a recent data breach. ArbiterSports reached an agreement with the unauthorized party to have the files deleted.
  • Victims of a data compromise can speak with an Identity Theft Resource Center expert advisor on the website via live-chat, or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530.

August was another month full of data breaches, all tracked by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Since 2005, the ITRC has compiled publicly-reported U.S. data breaches as part of our data breach tracking efforts. The ITRC tracks both publicly reported data breaches, and data exposures in a database containing 25 different information fields and 63 different identity attributes that are updated daily. Of the recent data breaches in August, Cense.Ai, Freepik and ArbiterSports are three of the most notable.

Cense.Ai

A recent Cense.Ai data exposure led to almost 2.6 million records, including sensitive data and other personally identifiable information (PII), accessible to anyone on the web. According to TechNadu, a database containing names, dates of birth, addresses, insurance records, medical diagnosis notes, clinics, insurance provider details, accounts, payment records and more was left online due to an error.

Security Researcher, Jeremiah Fowler, found two folders containing the sensitive data and managed to remove the port from the IP address of the Cense’s website. Fowler found that all individuals listed had been in a car accident. In most cases, there was also information like policy numbers, claim numbers and the date of the accident.

According to PCMag, Cense.Ai has not commented publicly about the exposure, and the company did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment. Anyone affected by the Cense.Ai data exposure should monitor all of their accounts for any suspicious activity. If you find anything out-of-the-ordinary in your records, contact the appropriate company and take additional action if needed. 

Freepik

Freepik is a website that provides access to high-quality free photos and design graphics. In mid-August, the popular site announced that they suffered a data breach. According to the company’s statement, there was a breach from a SQL injection in Flaticon that allowed an attacker to get user information from their database. A little more than eight million users were affected. 4.5 million users had no hashed passwords due to exclusively federated logins (through Google, Facebook, etc.), and the hacker only obtained their email address. However, the additional 3.8 million users had both their email addresses and hashed passwords stolen. Freepik says they have taken extra measures to reduce their risk of a similar attack in the future. The company is also in the process of notifying all affected users.

Users who had their passwords stolen in this recent data breach should change their password and the password of any other accounts that share the same password. Also, switch to a nine to ten-character passphrase. They are easier to remember and harder for hackers to guess.

ArbiterSports

ArbiterSports is used by many for end-to-end activities management solution. However, some users of the officiating software company were notified of a data breach that exposed account usernames and passwords, names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses and Social Security numbers. According to the company’s notification letter, ArbiterSports recently detected unauthorized access to certain devices in their network and an attempt to encrypt their systems.

After an investigation, the company learned the unauthorized party obtained a backup copy of a database made for business continuity reasons. The database contained PII for over 539,000 users. While ArbiterSports was able to prevent their devices from being encrypted, the unauthorized party still demanded payment in exchange for deleting the files. The two reached an agreement, and the files were deleted.

ArbiterSports is offering a free one-year membership of Experian’s IdentityWorks Credit 3B to detect possible misuse of personal information and to provide identity protection focused on identification and resolution of identity theft. Anyone affected should also change their username and password, as well as the username or password of any other accounts that share the same credentials. 

notifiedTM

For more information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notified. It is updated daily and free to consumers. Organizations that need comprehensive breach information for business planning or due diligence can access as many as 90 data points through one of the three paid notified subscriptions. Subscriptions help ensure the ITRC’s identity crime services stay free.

Contact the ITRC If you believe you are the victim of an identity crime, or your identity has been compromised in a data breach, you can speak with an ITRC expert advisor on the website via live-chat, or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530. Finally, victims of a data breach can download the free ID Theft Help app to access advisors, resources, a case log and much more.


Read more of our latest breaches below

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“Meow” Attacks Lead to 4,000 Deleted Databases and Perplexed Security Experts

Updated as of 3/1/2021- The recent social-good relationship management software data breach has nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, healthcare organizations and others left to figure out what to do next. Blackbaud, a cloud software company, used primarily by nonprofits, announced that they were the victim of a ransomware attack. Also, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Blackbaud acknowledges that a ransomware attack in May that affected its clients could have exposed much more personally identifiable information (PII) – including banking details – than the company initially believed. The number of people affected is still unknown, and more information needs to be gathered to judge the attack’s actual scope.

However, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has tracked 536 organizations and close to 13 million people affected. Anyone who engages with organizations that utilize Blackbaud could be at risk of scams, social engineering and more.

What Happened

In May 2020, a ransomware attack was partially thwarted. However, the perpetrator copied a subset of data before being locked out. The hackers then offered to delete the data for an undisclosed amount of money. According to Blackbaud, they paid the ransom and received confirmation that the copy they removed had been destroyed. However, the confirmation was not detailed. Blackbaud says they have no reason to believe that any data went beyond the cybercriminal, was or will be misused.

The information exposed in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, personal health information (PHI), financial information, credit card information, telephone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, mailing addresses, phone numbers, student I.D. numbers, biographical information, donation dates, donation amounts and other donor profile information. Blackbaud is calling the incident a security incident.

How it Can Impact You

Consumers impacted by the Blackbaud data breach could be at risk of scams (particularly giving and donation scams) and social engineering tactics. Multiple sectors were also impacted by the attack.

Healthcare Sector

Healthcare organizations all over the world use Blackbaud as their cloud software company. According to Blackbaud, 30 of the top 32 largest nonprofit hospitals are powered by their solutions. The ITRC has seen multiple data breach notices from healthcare organizations affected by the Blackbaud data breach. Since the breach impacted donors primarily, it could mean those individuals may be more susceptible to being targeted by fraudsters in the future.

Education Sector

Blackbaud plays a significant role in the education sector. They offer school management software to K-12 schools, as well as universities. Some of the management software includes student information, learning management, enrollment management and school websites. Many schools and districts have acknowledged they were impacted by the Blackbaud data breach. Most of the information involved includes donor information, alumni information, student I.D. numbers and student demographic information.

Nonprofit/NGO Sector

Blackbaud is a service that is primarily by nonprofits. Blackbaud offers an array of software services that cater to nonprofits worldwide, but are best known for their customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Many nonprofits use these to nurture their donors and fundraising. The range of types of nonprofits affected by the attack is vast. In fact, some Blackbaud nonprofits continue to come forward about whether or not they may have been impacted. Now, many nonprofits are trying to figure out their next steps for how to securely manage their CRM needs.  

What You Need to Do

The Blackbaud data breach and its impacts on businesses and consumers are specific to each affected entity and customer. Blackbaud has said that it notified its affected customers of the breach, and those customers should be notifying their impacted individuals. Depending on what information was exposed, the steps for those affected individuals could vary. Anyone who receives a notification letter regarding the Blackbaud data breach should not dismiss the letter and take the notice’s recommended steps.

For entities where sensitive PII was not exposed, the biggest threat is social engineering. Employees of the nonprofit organizations impacted by the breach may receive emails that look like they are from an executive, in an attempt at spear phishing. Donors and members of the nonprofit organizations impacted by the Blackbaud data breach may receive messages asking to provide their PII to update their contact or financial information, either directly through the email or through a link that does not actually belong to the nonprofit they are affiliated with. If an employee comes across an email they find suspicious, they should go directly back to the person it claimed to come from and verify the validity of the message if it is internal. If it is someone claiming to be from outside the organization, it should be run by their manager, IT services, or someone familiar with the relationship. More steps may have to be taken for entities where sensitive PII was exposed.

Anyone who believes they were impacted by the Blackbaud data breach can call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530. They can also live-chat with an expert advisor. Another option is the free ID Theft Help app. The app has resources for victims, a case log, access to an advisor and much more.


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Significant and negatively impactful data breaches in the healthcare industry have happened for a long time. Back in 2015, Anthem suffered a massive data breach that led to as many as 80 million people having their information stolen. In 2019, third-party billings and collection agency, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), suffered a data breach that affected over 24 million people and 20 healthcare entities. That included Quest Diagnostics, who had 11.9 million patients impacted. More recent healthcare data breaches include Florida Orthopaedic Institute, University of Utah Health and PaperlessPay.

What Does it Mean to You?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry continue to happen because of the availability of both personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) available to bad actors. Hackers can do a lot of damage with access to sensitive PHI and PII, like Social Security numbers, health insurance numbers, drivers licenses or identification numbers, medication lists, conditions, diagnoses and financial information. Fraudsters can submit use this data to file fraudulent health insurance claims, apply for medical care and prescription medications, use the information on billing and much more.

According to the Protenus 2020 Breach Barometer, in 2019,  data breaches in the healthcare industry continued to be a problem, involving sensitive patient information, with public reports of hacking jumping 48.6 percent from 2018. The 2020 IBM Report on the average cost of a data breach reported that the most expensive attacks in 2019 occurred in the healthcare sector. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) 2019 Data Breach Report, there were 525 medical and healthcare data breaches in 2019, exposing over 39 million sensitive records. The medical and healthcare sector had the second-highest number of breaches and sensitive records exposed of all the sectors the ITRC tracks.

What Can You Do?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry will continue to happen because of the troves of information. However, there are things consumers can do to reduce their risk.

  • Victims should change their username and password for their affected healthcare account
  • Consumers should also change their username and password on any other accounts that have the same username or password as their healthcare account
  • Depending on what piece of PHI is exposed, victims should contact the affected healthcare provider to see what steps need to be taken

Victims of a data breach in the health care industry can call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 for more information on the next steps they need to take. They can also live-chat with an ITRC expert advisor.

Victims are also encouraged to download the free ID Theft Help app. The app has tools for data breach victims, including a case log to track all of their steps taken, access to helpful resources during the resolution process, instant access to an advisor and much more.


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