As more people conduct their personal and professional business online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cyberattacks keeps trending upward. Hearing about high-profile cyberattacks with devasting financial consequences on the news can be unnerving, but it can also be a great learning opportunity. We’ll look at several recent cyberattacks to learn how it happened, what the impact was, and how it could’ve been avoided.
T-Mobile Data Breach
A massive data breach at T-Mobile in August 2021, exposed the personal information of 54 million people. An attacker breached T-Mobile’s network in July and posted stolen customer information for sale. This information included the names, driver’s license information, government identification number, Social Security numbers, addresses, and dates of birth of current, former, and prospective customers.
The attacker’s motives are unclear, but he told the Wall Street Journal that T-Mobile’s security was “awful” and he committed the hack for attention. The attacker has not confirmed whether or not he sold the stolen data, which often happens in attacks of this nature.
To recover from the attack, T-Mobile offered free access to McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service for customers affected and reset the PIN numbers of customers with prepaid accounts.
Unfortunately, once your information has been compromised, it’s impossible to get it back. What you can do though is make sure you’re using strong passwords and two-factor authentication on your accounts to keep them secure.
Unfortunately, once your information has been compromised, it’s impossible to get it back. What you can do though is make sure you’re using strong passwords and two-factor authentication on your accounts to keep them secure. If your personal information is compromised in a cyberattack, you should immediately change your password. Phishing attacks are common in the aftermath of a high-profile breach. Be cautious of any emails or text messages that ask for passwords or PINs, or direct you to websites asking for personal information.
TTEC Ransomware Attack
TTEC is a company of 60,000 employees that takes customer support calls on behalf of large companies. What at first appeared to be a widespread system outage for TTEC turned out to be a ransomware attack.
Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt data so the data owner is unable to access it. In the case of the September 2021 ransomware attack on TTEC, employees were unable to access their customer service tools, effectively halting all operations and resulting in days of lost revenue. The hackers behind a ransomware attack demand a ransom in exchange for a decryption key that allows access to the data. Attackers often threaten to sell or leak data if the ransom isn’t paid.
The best defense from ransomware is a multilayered security approach:
- Train Employees on Red Flags in Emails:
- Links and attachments are the most dangerous parts of an email. If the email wasn’t expected, even if you think you know the sender, pick up the phone and call to verify.
- Automatically Patch Your Software
- Most research following a breach finds the software responsible for allowing the attack had a security patch that hadn’t been applied. Set your software to patch automatically. If not possible, develop a patch process that quickly evaluates and pushes out security updates.
- Strong Credentials
- Long passphrases (25+ characters) are a good deterrent.
- Don’t log in unless you fully understand what you’re logging in to.
- Never reuse passwords on multiple systems.
- Remotely Accessible Consoles
- Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a strong tool that should be utilized for all remote connections whenever available. IP whitelisting, or only allowing connections from specific IP addresses, is another great control that should be used whenever available.
Over $100,000,000 Lost in Romance Scams in 2021 So Far
From January 1, 2021, to July 31, 2021, Americans lost $133,400,000 to romance scams according to the FBI. Individuals looking for love and companionship are often the victims of these scams. In a romance scam, the scammer’s initial contact is typically made through dating apps or a social media site.
Scammers may use poetry, flowers, and fabricated stories of personal tragedies to form a deep connection with their victims. The scammer may then lie about needing money to help them out of a rough situation and request those funds from the victim. By establishing this personal relationship, the romance scammer can steal your money by taking advantage of your emotions. The lesson to be learned here is to never send money to a romantic interest you have not met in person.
Follow these tips from the FBI to avoid becoming a romance scam victim:
- Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use that information against you.
- Only use dating websites with national reputations, but assume that con artists are on the most reputable sites.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Research the individual’s pictures to ensure they’re not from someone else’s profile.
- The individual sends you a photo that looks like it is from a magazine.
- The individual professes love quickly.
- The individual tries to isolate you from family and friends.
- The individual claims to be working and living far away.
- The individual makes plans to visit you but always cancels because of some emergency.
- The individual asks you for money. It may take weeks or months before the perpetrator first asks for money.
- Never help anyone move money through your own account.
- The individual asks you to send compromising photos or videos of yourself or asks for your financial information. Never send anything that can later be used to blackmail you.
- If you plan to meet someone in person that you have met online, do not travel alone.
The Gift Card Gang’s Email Compromises
Similar to the romance scam’s “low-and-slow” approach of stealing smaller quantities of money over an extended period of time, the Gift Card Gang is also in it for the long game. This cybercriminal group averages 5 to 10 million email authentication attempts daily, successfully gaining entry into 50,000 to 100,000 personal email inboxes every day. Once they are in your inbox, they steal any gift cards and customer loyalty program points they can find and resell them online at a fraction of their value.
99.9% of account compromises, like those by the Gift Card Gang, can be prevented with multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information (e.g., a phone number or unique security code) when attempting to access corporate applications, networks, and servers.
Choice Bank is committed to providing you with up-to-date resources to help you stay informed. Check out our cybersecurity resource page for more tips, trends, and current events here.