Here are the top stories of recent weeks:
- 20 Million Russian Citizens Exposed
- One Billion WhatsApp Users Can Lose Personal Data Via GIFs
- More Than 500 U.S. Schools Have Been Affected by Ransomware Thus Far in 2019
- Déjà vu! Google Issues Warning to 280 Million Android Users Due to Play Store Manipulations in China
- American Express Employee Under Investigation for Unlawfully Accessing User Data
A Russian online database containing personally identifiable information (PII) was left unsecured and accessible to the public. Consequently, 20 million Russian citizens had their personal information exposed. Comparitech researchers assert that the exposed server contained highly sensitive information, including Russian nationals’ full names, home addresses, residency statuses, passport numbers, phone numbers, tax ID numbers, employer names and phone numbers, and tax amounts. The data is said to have been compiled between 2009 to 2016 and stored in an AWS (Amazon Web Services) S3 bucket without any security measures. As in, no form of credential requirements or encryption whatsoever to protect 20 million citizens’ PII (personally identifiable information). Phishing scams are one of the immediate threats that can ensue, however, a data leak of this magnitude can bring forth serious ramifications for the victims.
One billion WhatsApp users were recently warned of a new security flaw that enables threat actors to steal their personal data via GIFs. This warning came about as a technical write-up appeared on Github describing a step-by-step process to hacking users’ files and messages using GIFs. According to a self-proclaimed technologist and infosec enthusiast who goes by the alias of “Awakened”, WhatsApp is an encrypted messaging platform – but it is not flawless. Numerous vulnerabilities have been disclosed this year that could have harmful consequences for users. Awakened asserts that this new bug allows threat actors to use malicious GIF image files to open a vulnerability within WhatsApp users’ accounts in order to access their messages and files.
Just in the first few weeks of the new school year more than 100 schools (15 U.S. school districts) were affected by ransomware attacks. Armor, a cybersecurity firm, tracked 54 successful ransomware infections that were directed towards educational organizations like school districts and colleges. Ryuk is one of the most prevalent ransomware strains/criminal organizations presently and are said to be responsible for at least one out of every three ransomware attacks. The research concluded that seven Connecticut school districts experienced ransomware attacks just within 2019, making their educational system the most compromised by ransomware this year. As of now it is unclear just how many affected organizations paid the ransom and what the resulting consequences were.
VPNs (virtual private networks) are considered to be an essential tool for the constituents of China that do not experience the same freedoms that other parts of the world take for granted. Behind China’s infamous “Great Firewall”, citizens are not free to access certain news sites and social media applications and so they turn to trusted VPNs to grant them access into these platforms. A study conducted by a virtual private network provider, VPNPro, concluded that seven of the top 10 VPN apps were falsely advertising that users’ data would be secured. However, research indicates that user data is logged and if that data can be traced back to individuals using the supposed secured application, there would be alarming consequences for the 280 million individuals that installed these apps.
An American Express employee is currently being investigated for unlawfully accessing card holder information and allegedly using it to open accounts at other financial institutions. The breached information includes card holders’ names, billing and physical addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and credit card information. Although they are not the typical data breach notices, insider threats and rogue employees are factors that organizations have to consider. Without the proper security measures in place, organizations will continue to struggle to safeguard their data or keep track of the digital footprint of said data.
To learn about cloud access security brokers (CASBs) and how they can protect your enterprise from data leakage, malware, and more, download the Top CASB Use Cases below.