Cyber Attacks A “Critical Threat” – Billions Of Records Compromised in The Biggest Data Breaches
The number of cybersecurity attacks has increased in recent years as more people and businesses increasingly rely on the internet for numerous things. These attacks range from data breaches and infrastructure infiltrations to brute force and spear phishing attacks. Malicious actors do not care whom they target, whether individuals or corporations. However, corporations are targeted a lot more due to the potential amount of data that malicious actors can take.
Modern Cyber Threats
Cybersecurity threats have evolved from the use of malware to infect systems to using different techniques to compromise systems or infiltrate them. It can be difficult to visualize how cybersecurity threats take place over the internet or cyberspace, and therefore we have come to visualize them as physical attacks against infrastructure and systems.
Regardless of how you view them, the intent and potential impact of such threats are obvious. While some attacks are a nuisance, such as someone trying to show that a system’s security is weak, some are very serious, going as far as to threaten human lives.
The Critical Threat
There are other more serious threats posed by cyber-attacks. Attackers can cause electrical blackouts, kill numerous data centers, hold them hostage using malware, and even cause breaches of national security or military equipment.
They can also make data unavailable by attacking the systems and networks many of us rely on for everyday tasks and work.
The Threat is Growing
Cybersecurity threats are growing too. According to research done by melitabusiness in Malta, the number of cybersecurity threats almost doubled in 2021 compared to 2020, and this trend is expected to continue when we compare 2022 to 2021.
Cybersecurity risks can affect all organizations, and we have seen a particular increase in the number of ransomware attacks against corporations in recent years. This is where a malicious actor takes a company’s infrastructure “hostage” and demands payment with failure to comply leading to complete system and data loss.
Billions of Records Compromised or Stolen
Perhaps the most obvious result of a data breach is a loss of data. Malicious actors will target servers owned by companies that store a lot of personal information including social media companies, gaming companies, and credit bureaus, as we will see below.
When this happens, this data ends up in the hands of the people who buy it and use it for various nefarious activities. Identity theft is an obvious issue if the data compromised included credit card data.
Other issues include malicious and unauthorised access to people’s social media accounts, email spam, and the compromise of additional systems if a victim used a single password for multiple accounts, including work accounts.
Email spam is of particular note because if a malicious actor gets access to someone’s email, it is much easier to coordinate a phishing attack. This is because additional victims who receive an email from a sender they trust are more likely to click links or open images that can infect their devices with malware.
Understanding all the above, which were the most devastating cyber attacks leading to the loss of data and records?
DoorDash Data Breach
The food delivery giant confirmed that it suffered a data breach that exposed information about over 9.9 million merchants, workers, and customers. Personal information and likely banking and payment details were compromised, although only partial payment information was stored on the compromised systems.
Optus Data Breach
Optus is a telecommunications company based in Australia. The company has 9.7 million subscribers, and they had their systems compromised and customer data stolen. The data included personal identifying details, such as email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and names.
It is thought that some customers also had additional information including passport numbers, physical addresses, and driving licences leaked.
LAUSD Data Breach
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had over 500 GB of its data leaked when it refused to pay a ransom demanded by Vice Society, a Russian hacking group. The data leaked included personal information including Social Security Numbers, tax forms, passport information, legal and financial documents, contact information, health information, banking information, and much more.
Medibank Data Breach
Medibank is one of the largest health insurance companies in Australia. It confirmed that almost 10 million records of past and present customers, including about 2 million international customers, were accessed by unauthorised parties.
The malicious actors likely copied data in the compromised system. Because Medibank could not be sure their data would be released and whether any data was taken, they declined to pay the ransom. The other reason they gave was that they could not trust that any data taken would not be sold or published.
In June 2021, the data of over 700 million LinkedIn users appeared on a dark web forum. This breach affected over 90% of LinkedIn users. LinkedIn said that the malicious actor, known as God User, used web scraping techniques rather than breaching their systems to collect the posted information.
A data sample posted by the user showed that they had social media details, genders, phone numbers, email addresses, geolocation details, and names of users. The fear at the time was that he would sell the data to malicious actors who would use them to create convincing social engineering attacks that could lead to more data breaches.
Although this data breach happened in 2013, the final number of those affected was revealed in 2016. The information that the data of over 3 billion customers was compromised by malicious actors was revealed as the company was in the process of being acquired by Verizon.
Yahoo said it sent emails to all affected accounts and even though the details of what was compromised remain unreliable, we can assume the malicious actors gained at least access to email addresses and names.
Cyber attacks are indeed a threat to the modern world because they do not discriminate and most of us rely on the internet for numerous things. Even though many people are protecting themselves better from these attacks, they are still happening and growing in number and sophistication.