Posts

  • A Canon data breach resulted from a ransomware attack on the company by the Maze ransomware group. Canon is just one of many companies recently hit with a ransomware attack, a trend the Identity Theft Resource Center predicts to continue in 2021.  
  • The mobile video game Animal Jam suffered a data breach affecting 46 million users after threat actors stole a database. However, WildWorks, the game’s owner, has been very transparent throughout the entire process, setting an example of how businesses should approach data breaches. 
  • Insurance tech company Vertafore discovered files containing driver-related information for 28 million Texas residents were posted to an unsecured online storage service.  
  • For more information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM.  
  • Keep an eye out for the ITRC’s 15th Annual Data Breach Report. The 2020 Data Breach Report will be released on January 27, 2021. 
  • If you believe you are a victim of identity theft from a data breach, contact the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 or through live-chat on the company website.  

Notable Data Compromises for November 2020 

Of all the data breaches the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) tracked in November, three stood out: Canon, WildWorks – Animal Jam, and Vertafore. All three data events are notable for different reasons. One highlights a trend and prediction made by the ITRC; another shows transparency by the company throughout the process; the third leaves 28 million individuals’ driver-related information exposed. 

Canon 

Camera manufacturer Canon recently suffered a data breach that was caused by a ransomware attack, but the company only acknowledged the attack was the result of ransomware in November. According to techradar.com and Bleeping Computer, the Canon IT department notified their staff in August that the company was suffering “widespread system issues affecting multiple applications, Teams, email and other systems.” On November 25, the company acknowledged the Canon data breach was due to a ransomware attack by the Maze ransomware group.  

It is unknown how many people are affected by the Canon data breach. However, files that contained information about current and former employees from 2005 to 2020, their beneficiaries, and dependents were exposed. Information in those files included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or government-issued identification numbers, financial account numbers provided to Canon for direct deposit, electronic signatures and birth dates. 

Canon is just one of many companies that have been hit with a ransomware attack. As the ITRC mentioned in its 2021 predictions, cybercriminals are making more money defrauding businesses with ransomware attacks and phishing schemes that rely on poor consumer behaviors than traditional data breaches that rely on stealing personal information. As a result of the ransomware rise, data breaches are on pace to be down by 30 percent in 2020 and the number of individuals impacted down more than 60 percent year-over-year.  

WildWorks – Animal Jam 

Animal Jam, an educational game launched by WildWorks in 2010, suffered a data breach after threat actors stole a database. According to the WildWorks CEO, cybercriminals gained access to 46 million player records after compromising a company server. The information exposed in the Animal Jam data breach includes seven million email addresses, 32 million usernames, encrypted passwords, approximately 15 million birth dates, billing addresses and more. 

WildWorks has been very transparent throughout the entire process. The company provided a detailed breakdown of the information taken in the Animal Jam data breach, how the data event happened, where the information was circulated, whether people’s accounts are safe and the next steps to take. The ITRC believes WildWorks has set an example of how other businesses should share information with impacted consumers after a data breach.  

Anyone affected by the Animal Jam data breach should change their email and password for their account (consumers should switch to a 12-character passphrase because it is easier to remember and harder to guess). Users should also change the email and password of other accounts that share the same email and password. If any users think their account was used illegally, they are encouraged to contact the Animal Jam security team by emailing support@animaljam.com  

Vertafore 

Vertafore, a Denver based insurance tech company, recently discovered three files containing driver-related information were posted to an unsecured online storage service. The files included data from before February 2019 on nearly 28 million Texas drivers. Vertafore says the files have since been secured, but they believe the files were accessed without authorization. To learn more about this data breach, read the ITRC’s latest blog, and listen to our podcast on the event. 

Unfortunately, companies continue to leave databases unsecured, which is tied with ransomware as the most common cause of data compromises, according to IBM. Consumers impacted by the Vertafore data event need to follow the advice given by Vertafore and the Texas Department of Public Safety

notifiedTM  

For more information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM, 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 at no-cost by phone (888.400.5530) or live-chat. Just go to www.idtheftcer.org to get started. Also, victims of a data breach can download the free ID Theft Help app to access resources, a case log and much more.  

  • Vertafore, a Denver based insurance tech company, discovered three files containing driver-related information were posted to an unsecured online storage service. The files included data from before February 2019 on nearly 28 million Texas drivers.
  • The files included lienholder information, drivers’ license numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses and vehicle registration histories.
  • Failing to secure a cloud database is tied with ransomware as the most common cause of data compromise, according to IBM. The ITRC’s own data breach information corroborates the findings.
  • Consumers impacted by the Vertafore data compromise need to follow the advice given by Vertafore and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Vertafore is offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity restoration services.
  • For more information on the Texas driver’s records exposed, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free at 888.400.5530 or live-chat on the company website.
  • For the latest on data breaches, visit the ITRC’s data breach tracking tool notifiedTM.

Subscribe to the Weekly Breach Breakdown Podcast

Every week the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) looks at some of the top data compromises from the previous week and other relevant privacy and cybersecurity news in our Weekly Breach Breakdown Podcast. This week, we will discuss the Vertafore data compromise that exposed personal information to the risk of being stolen by a cybercriminal by not installing security on a cloud storage service.

What We Know

There is one thing that almost everyone carries in their pocket – their driver’s license. Without a driver’s license, people can’t legally drive or show proof of age or identity. It is one of the most important forms of identification a person needs in the U.S. That is why a recent event that led to Texas driver’s records exposed has millions of people worried about how it could affect them.

Vertafore, a Denver based insurance tech company, discovered that three files containing driver-related information were moved to an unsecured online storage service. In other words, it was moved to a third-party cloud database with no security. The files included data before February 2019 on nearly 28 million Texas drivers. The files included lienholder information, drivers’ license numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses and vehicle registration histories.

In a statement announcing that Texas driver’s records were exposed, Vertafore says there is no evidence of information misuse. However, the company acknowledges that there is evidence an unknown and unauthorized party accessed the information. Other Vertafore data – including partner, vendor or additional supplier information – and systems remain unimpacted. No Vertafore systems were found to include known software vulnerabilities, and Vertafore immediately secured the suspect files.

Investigators hired by the company believe the unauthorized access to the data occurred between March 11 and August 1 of 2020. The files supported one of Vertafore’s products that helps insurance companies determine insurance policy costs. The files did not contain Social Security numbers or financial information about consumers. Vertafore is offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity restoration services.

Cloud Databases Continue to be Left Unsecured

Unfortunately, this kind of event is far too common. On last week’s podcast, we highlighted another company that left a cloud database unsecured, leading to nearly ten million people’s travel accounts being available online.

Failing to secure a cloud database is tied with ransomware as the most common cause of data compromise, according to IBM. The ITRC’s own data breach information corroborates the findings. Most of the time, there is no evidence data thieves removed or copied the data – meaning the risk of misuse is relatively low. However, it is not zero. It is why consumers impacted by the Vertafore data compromise need to follow the advice given by Vertafore and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

How the Data Ends Up in the Hands of a Private Company

The event that led to Texas driver’s records exposed has prompted consumers to ask questions about how their driver’s license and related data ends up in the hands of a private company. That is not an uncommon question when data breaches, compromises and exposures involve businesses that victims have never heard of – and did not give permission for their data to be shared.

While the answer to the question varies from state to state, the response is almost always some version of “it’s legal.” Also, consumers rarely have the opportunity to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of the sale or sharing of information like driver’s license data by the government.

In response to questions about the Vertafore compromise, the State of Texas issued a statement about the use of driver’s data:

“Texas law permits, and at times requires, the release to authorized parties of driver license and vehicle registration information.”

In the case of Vertafore, the permitted use involves ensuring companies have the data they need to appropriately price insurance premiums for drivers.

Even the nation’s toughest privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), allows personal information from government agencies to be sold and shared for certain purposes without the consumers’ consent. Generally, consumers cannot opt-out of these uses if they are designed to prevent fraud or are used to verify someone’s identity.

notifiedTM  

For information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM. 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 have questions about how to protect your information from data breaches and data exposures, or if you want to learn more about the Vertafore data compromise, contact the ITRC. You can speak with an advisor toll-free over the phone (888.400.5530), live-chat on the web, or email itrc@idtheftcenter.org during business hours. Just visit www.idtheftcenter.org to get started. Also, download the free ID Theft Help App to access resources, a case log and much more.  

Join us on our weekly data breach podcast to get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform. 

  • The software provider behind some of the largest travel websites, Prestige Software, maintained a cloud database without a password. The unsecured database led to approximately 10 million accounts being available to view online to anyone who knew where to look.  
  • Prestige Software provides technology services to Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Sabre and other hotel reservation websites around the world. Information included credit card details, payment details and reservation details dating back to 2013.  
  • While there is no evidence the exposed information is being misused, travel website users should change their passwords on their accounts (our experts suggest enacting a passphrase), add two-factor authentication, freeze their credit, monitor their bank statements for any unusual activity and keep an eye out for phishing attempts.  
  • For more information, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free at 888.400.5530 or live-chat on the company website. 
  • For the latest on data breaches, visit the ITRC’s data breach tracking tool notifiedTM

Subscribe to the Weekly Breach Breakdown Podcast 

Every week the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) looks at some of the top data compromises from the previous week and other relevant privacy and cybersecurity news in our Weekly Breach Breakdown Podcast. This week, we look at the all too frequent event in the world of data – unsecured databases. 

A Lack of Secure Online Databases 

In the context of data protection, repeating the same mistake can have significant consequences. It is why cybersecurity professionals tend to focus on preventing data breaches. That requires them to continually adapt their strategies and tactics to match those of the treat actors who are frequently attacking company systems.  

 Securing online databases continues to slip away from cybersecurity teams. The software provider behind some of the world’s largest travel websites maintained a cloud database without a password, leading to 10 million accounts being available online for access by anyone who knew where to look.  

Forensic researchers believe the available information dates back to 2013 and only relates to hotel reservations. While the information contained in the unsecured database could be used to commit several identity crimes and fraud, right now, there is no evidence the information has been copied and removed from the database. Also, right now, there are no reports of the data being used. 

Software Provider Behind Large Travel Websites Leaves Database Unsecured 

Prestige Software provides technology services to websites that many consumers may have used, including: 

  • Booking.com 
  • Expedia 
  • Hotels.com 
  • Sabre (The reservation system used by American Airlines) 
  • Other hotel reservation websites & mobile apps 

The cloud database was hosted in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment that included basic security protections. However, they were not configured. Prestige Software confirmed the database was open to the internet and is now secured.  

Information Exposed Due to Unsecure Prestige Software Database 

The information stored in the unsecured database included large amounts of personal information like full names, email addresses, national I.D. numbers and phone numbers of hotel guests. Additional information stored includes: 

Credit card details: card number, cardholder’s name, CVV and expiration date 

Payment details: total cost of hotel reservations 

Reservation details: reservation number, dates of a stay, the price paid per night, additional requests made by guests, number of people, guest names and much more 

What Impacted Consumers Need To Do 

Consumers who have used these travel websites should assume that any information they shared since 2013 is in the wild and available to be misused in identity crimes, fraud and phishing schemes. Consumers should act as if they have already received a breach notice due to the unsecured database and take the necessary steps to protect their personal information

  • Change your passwords on the travel accounts to a longer, memorable passphrase. Make sure it is unique to the account. Do not use the same passphrase on more than only one account because it helps the bad guys. 
  • Add two-factor authentication. 
  • Freeze your creditif you haven’t already, and monitor your credit card statements for unusual activity over the next few months. 
  • Keep an eye out for phishing attemptsespecially related to any websites affected by this breach or other travel-related websites. Remember, the best protection is to never click on unsolicited links. If you are unsure, contact the company directly.  

How It Impacts Prestige Software 

For the company, the impacts of the lapse in cybersecurity could be significant. Prestige Software is based in Spain and subject to the European Union’s strict privacy and cybersecurity law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Companies found to have failed to protect consumer information are subject to significant fines up to four percent of their annual revenue.  

Also, companies that process credit cards are subject to self-regulations. The penalty for failing to comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards include, in some cases, a company losing the right to process debit and credit cards. It is surprising that we have to continue to remind companies of a simple fact: Companies are responsible for securing their cloud environments, not cloud platform providers like Amazon, IBM, Microsoft or any other cloud services companies. Cloud hosts will make basic tools available, but companies have to use them. Also, companies are still responsible for patching their applications and maintaining their advanced cybersecurity tools.  

notifiedTM  

For information about recent data breaches, consumers and businesses should visit the ITRC’s new data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM. 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 have been affected by the Prestige Software database exposure and want to learn more or think you’re the victim of an identity crime, contact the ITRC at no-cost by calling 888.400.5530 or by live-chat on the company website. Also, download the free ID Theft Help App to access resources, a case log and much more.  

Join us on our weekly data breach podcast to get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform. 


Timberline, BankSight and MAXEX Headline the Most Notable Data Breaches in October

California Voters Pass Strongest Privacy Law in the U.S. – The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA)

Reports Show Consumer Privacy and Cybersecurity Views Have Evolved

  • A recent report by Comparitech says that six percent of all Google Cloud environments are misconfigured and left open to the web for anyone to see.  
  • Dunkin Donuts settled in a lawsuit with the State of New York after being accused of not taking appropriate action in response to two cyberattacks dating back to 2015.
  • 217 Blackbaud users have announced they are impacted by the technology services provider data breach. The breach has affected at least 5.7 million individuals.
  • To learn about the latest data breaches, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) data breach tracking tool, notifiedTM. Consumers impacted by a data breach can call the ITRC at 888.400.5530 or live-chat with an expert advisor on the company website.

It’s a busy week in the world of data breaches. A report released reports six percent of all Google Cloud environments are misconfigured and left open to the web where anyone can view them; Dunkin Donuts paid a settlement over a series of cyberattacks that resulted in multiple Dunkin Donuts data breaches; There’s also an update in the data breach of Blackbaud.

Subscribe to the Weekly Breach Breakdown Podcast

Every week, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) looks at some of the top data compromises of the previous week in our Weekly Breach Breakdown podcast. This week, Dunkin, Blackbaud and Google Cloud highlight the list.

Misconfigured Google Cloud Environments

2020 has had its share of high-profile data events. Sar far in September, an estimated 100,000 customers of a high-end gaming gear company had their private information exposed from a misconfigured server. Another misconfigured server impacted 70 dating and e-commerce sites, leaking personal information and dating preferences. In Wales, personally identifiable information (PII) of Welsh residents who tested positive for COVID-19 was exposed when it was uploaded to a public server.

According to a recent research report published by Comparitech, six percent of all Google Cloud environments are misconfigured and left open to the web where anyone can view their contents. Amazon, the largest cloud provider, has also had issues with clients failing to secure their databases. There is no evidence that any of the data was stolen or misused by threat actors. However, the kinds of data Comparitech uncovered includes thousands of scanned documents such as passports, birth certificates and personal profiles from children. This is not considered a data breach. Rather, it is categorized as a data exposure because their information was not taken; it was just exposed on the internet. With that said, it is a poor cybersecurity practice that puts consumers at risk.

If anyone uses a cloud database in their business, they should make sure their information is secure, starting with a password.

Dunkin Donuts Data Breach Settlement

Dunkin, the company many know as Dunkin Donuts, experienced multiple data breaches where at least 300,000 customers’ information was stolen. A settlement from a lawsuit with the State of New York was reached due to the Dunkin Donuts data breaches. The lawsuit alleged that Dunkin Donuts failed to take appropriate action in response to two cyberattacks dating back to 2015.

The New York Attorney General says Dunkin Donuts failed to notify its customers of a 2015 breach, reset account passwords to prevent further unauthorized access, or freeze the store customer cards registered with their accounts. The State also claimed Dunkin Donuts failed to implement appropriate safeguards to limit future attacks.

The company was notified by a third-party vendor in 2018 that customer accounts had, again, been attacked. Although the company contacted customers after the 2018 Dunkin Donuts data breach, the State claimed the notification was incomplete and misleading.

Dunkin Donuts will pay the State $650,000, refund New York customers impacted by the data breach, and will be required to take additional steps to prevent further Dunkin Donuts data breaches.

Businesses with customers in New York should check to see if the State’s new privacy and cybersecurity law, known as New York SHIELD, applies to them. It has very specific notice requirements in the event personal information is exposed in a data breach.

Blackbaud Data Breach Update

The ITRC notified consumers of a data breach of Blackbaud in August. The technology services provider announced in July that data thieves stole information belonging to the non-profit and education organizations that use Blackbaud to process client information. The cybercriminals demanded a ransom, and Blackbaud paid it in exchange for proof the client information was destroyed.

Since the data breach of Blackbaud was announced, 217 different Blackbaud users of all shapes and sizes have reported their client’s information was impacted in the ransomware attack. Not every organization has listed how many people have been affected. However, the latest count from the organizations that have is 5.7 million individuals.

Blackbaud has not shared the number of customers with compromised information. Instead, they have relied on the customers to self-report it. Breach notices continue to be filed each day, and the ITRC will keep consumers updated on any future developments. 

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, like the data breach of Blackbaud, you can speak with an ITRC expert advisor on the website via live-chat or by calling toll-free at 888.400.5530. Victims of a data breach can also download the free ID Theft Help app to access advisors, resources, a case log and much more.

Join us on our weekly data breach podcastto get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform.


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  • 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.


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

Right now, there is a particular kind of data exposure that is mystifying security experts around the world. Every week, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) takes a look at some of the top data compromises of the previous week in our Weekly Breach Breakdown podcast. This week, we are looking at an attacker who is erasing insecure cloud databases and leaving a single word as their calling card: meow. Yes, it is a “meow” attack.

Where It All Began

The story begins 20 years ago when threat actors were known as hackers. They were just as likely to be your neighbors’ kid than a criminal mastermind in a foreign country. For visual, you can think of the 1980’s movie War Games where Matthew Broderick breaks into a super-secret pentagon weapons system to challenge the computer to a game of thermonuclear war and tic-tac-toe.

Fast forward to today, and the average threat actor is part of a well-organized criminal enterprise where stealing and selling personal and company information is the bottom line. It is a multi-billion-dollar business that runs like a regular business – that is, if it weren’t illegal.

Unsecured Databases

Every week the ITRC talks about data breaches from the previous week and how they happen. In July, one week we focused on the top reasons data breaches occur, and pointed out that IBM’s latest research shows misconfigured cloud databases are tied for the number one reason personal information is compromised, even if it is not stolen.

Unsecured databases have been a growing cybersecurity problem since 2018, and some of the world’s biggest data compromises have been the result of poor cybersecurity practices. In 2019, a mystery web database containing four billion records linked to 1.2 billion people had no password protection and was accessible on any web browser.

Later in 2019, databases that included hundreds of millions of records were exposed at First American Financial Corp., email validation firm Verifications.io, and Capital One Bank.

What Is Happening Today

Now, in a throwback to the time before professional hackers, either someone or some group is trolling the internet using the same automated tools as professional data thieves. They are looking for cloud databases that do not have proper security. However, instead of stealing the information, the Grey Hat attacker is deleting the information it finds and is replacing it with the word meow.

As ITRC COO James Lee says in the podcast, “In other words, a modern-day Robinhood is treating the internet as their own personal Sherwood Forest and taking from the data-rich to protect the personal information of the masses.”

When the Attacks Were Discovered

The “meow” attacks were discovered in early July by cybersecurity researcher Bob Diachenko. Diachenko has since identified more than 4,000 “meow” attacks, including one where 3.1 million patient records were erased at a medical software company because the database housing the sensitive information did not have a password to secure the data.

What the ITRC Recommends

The ITRC disapproves of vigilante justice, even when protecting consumers from having their personal information misused. The ITRC condones and strongly encourages businesses to make sure they have properly configured their security tools before putting an internet-accessible cloud database into production. To use a pun, doing so may help “keep the cat in the bag,” where it belongs.

notifiedTM

For more information about the latest 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.

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.

Join us on our weekly data breach podcast to get the latest perspectives on the last week in breaches. Subscribe to get it delivered on your preferred podcast platform.



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