In this digital age, it makes sense that businesses would choose to store the large amounts of data they process in digital rather than physical format.
Although cloud storage is a very convenient data storage solution, it does have some drawbacks. One of the biggest problems is that if a cloud server is misconfigured, the data within it can be accessed and stolen by hackers.
Similarly, software is responsible for ensuring that day-to-day processes continue, but vulnerabilities in unpatched software can leave your business exposed to hacks, leaks, and data breaches. In fact, in 2019, Bitdefender discovered that: 60% of data breaches This year involved unpatched software vulnerabilities.
This article explains the real dangers of software vulnerabilities and cloud server misconfigurations, the devastating effects these issues can have, and how to protect your personal data.
government data breach
Government agencies handle some of the world's most sensitive data and large amounts of it. With this in mind, you would think that protecting this data would be a top priority and any potential weaknesses would be addressed before they could be exploited by hackers.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
In September 2023, the UK's election monitoring body, the Electoral Commission, revealed that it had been victimized by a cyber attack that lasted more than a year from August 2021 to October 2022.
Hackers may have gained access to the election commission's servers, allowing them to view the watchdog's email communications and accessing the names and addresses of 40 million registered voters. It has not yet been made public how the hackers gained access to the Election Commission's servers.
It was later revealed that the Electoral Commission's attempt to obtain a Cyber Essentials certificate automatically failed in August 2021, the same month that hackers gained access to the organization's servers. Part of the failure was that more than 200 staff devices were using outdated and therefore potentially insecure software. This includes staff using iPhone models that are no longer receiving security updates. A Cyber Essentials audit is a voluntary qualification used to prove that an organization is cyber secure.
A similar leak was made public in June 2023 in the United States. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) revealed that over 61,000 applicants were victims of a data breach in which their private addresses were accessed by hackers during this period.
The data breach was caused by an error in one of the USPTO's application planning interfaces (APIs). The API allows two pieces of software to communicate with each other, so you can see that there was an error in the app that USPTO employees and patent applicants use to check the status of their trademark applications.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a statement regarding the data breach, including the fact that it does not believe the information was used by cybercriminals.
Data held by governments and critical infrastructure providers is extremely valuable not only to hackers but also to the owners of the data. If these institutions suffer a data breach, the public may lose trust in these institutions to look after their data. It is clear that to be worthy of public trust, governments and critical infrastructure organizations must focus on protecting this valuable data.
Business data leakage
Companies can also experience such large-scale data breaches. Constant neglect of data security and software patches leaves them exposed to data breaches and leaks. This can be particularly impactful for companies that handle large amounts of sensitive information.
If this information is leaked, it can have a variety of business implications. First, not only does it give the impression that the brand doesn't care about its customers' data, which could lead to customers leaving for a competitor, but it also makes the company appear negligent or negligent, which can affect its reputation. receive. Typically.
One notable example of this was the data breach by ENC Security, an encryption provider serving many companies, including technology company Sony.
In November 2022, ENC Security's servers will be provided with information used to authenticate your identity, including API keys, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), hash-based message authentication codes (HMAC), and various access keys. It turned out that it contained data.
Information stored on the server was compromised from May 21, 2021 to November 9, 2022. ENC Security later confirmed that the breach was caused by a configuration error with a third-party supplier.
This breach was dangerous for a variety of reasons, not least because the data contained on the server was extremely valuable. If cybercriminals discover a breach, they can use the data held within the server to spread ransomware or launch phishing campaigns against users who have personally identifying information stored on the server. It could have carried out various cybercrimes, such as attempting to initiate or
Data breaches and leaks can have a variety of impacts on businesses, from losing customers to having to temporarily suspend operations to deal with hackers. In any case, data breaches and leaks can lead to loss of revenue, and the average loss due to a data breach will reach US$ 9.48 million in 2023. The economic implications are so great that companies cannot afford not to take control of their customers' data.
Data leakage from third parties
Many companies outsource data processing and storage to third-party providers. While this is effective for businesses in terms of saving both time and money, it can expose them to data leaks caused by third parties who misconfigure their software leading to data leaks.
One of the most notorious examples of the risks posed by third-party data breaches is MOVEit series of data breaches. In June 2023, a vulnerability in software company Progress Software's MOVEit file transfer app was exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to networks and cause a number of large-scale data breaches. Data from both companies that used MOVEit directly, as well as from other companies that used the services of organizations that also used MOVEit, such as Ernst & Young (EY), an accounting firm and professional services network. Data has been leaked.
The data was posted online by the ransomware group Cl0p, which claimed responsibility for the series of breaches. At the time of writing, 2,611 organizations and 85.1-89.9 million individuals Data was leaked by exploiting a vulnerability in MOVEit software.
This cyberattack demonstrates the importance of data protection and staying on top of software vulnerabilities and patching them quickly. The far-reaching effects caused by a single software vulnerability, and third- and fourth-party data breaches, remind us why it is so important for companies hosting data to properly protect it. play an important role.
How to check if your data has been leaked
When data is exposed due to a data breach, it can have troubling repercussions. From increasing the risk of cyber-attacks such as phishing to identity theft, exposing data is dangerous and must be treated seriously.
After a data breach, businesses and organizations must notify that their data has been compromised. However, this does not always happen as quickly as the victim would like. In some cases, businesses themselves may not realize the scope of a data breach for months or even years after the breach. In this case, there is another way to check if your data was exposed through a data breach.
HaveIBeenPwned.com is a free resource that lets you see if your data has been compromised. Although we don't know how this data was exposed, it can give you a good idea of how cybercriminals will try to target you, so you can be prepared if a phishing attempt begins. can.
Speaking of phishing, another way to tell if your data has been published or sold recently is if you suddenly get a flood of phishing attempts by email, phone call, or text message. Again, this doesn't tell us how the data was compromised, but it gives us reason to be cautious.
Thankfully, there are ways to better protect your personal information, including: