It’s been a bad year for Facebook so far. They recently revealed that they may have improperly shared the details of 87 million users with a third-party, the now-infamous political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Then, on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg himself admitted during a press conference that “malicious actors” may have took advantage of Facebook to obtain the public data of all or most of Facebook’s 2.2 billion strong user base.
An Post has admitted to a data breach which resulted in the data of up to 8,000 customers being provided to a third party without their knowledge or consent. The breach took place between April 2016 and September 2017, and involves the data of customers who used An Post’s online mail redirection service. An Post discovered that it had inadvertently shared these details with a Dublin-based marketing firm, Precision Marketing Information Ltd, who updated users’ details with companies they had previously done business with.
Up to 8,000 customers’ data was sent to a third party marketing company, allowing businesses that had previously contacted them to market to them at their new addresses
Trend Micro, one of the largest cyber security firms in the world, has released their annual security roundup report, and the results show some alarming trends. With the GDPR upcoming, cyber criminals have been refining their techniques in order to increase their financial gains, moving away from exploit kits which can be an unpredictable earner, to more reliable tactics such as business email compromise, phishing and spam, ransomware, and the relatively new threat to businesses, malicious crypto-currency mining.
Exploits kits are down, but 2017 saw over 300 new ransomware families, in addition to a rise in business email compromise scams and the all-new malicious crypto-mining threat.
Carphone Warehouse have been ordered to pay a fine of £400,000 (over €450,000) to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, one of the largest fines the ICO has ever issued to a company. A data breach at Carphone Warehouse occurred in 2015, which subsequently led the ICO to investigate the company and discovered a series of “systematic failures” in security practice. The severity of the fine reflected the fact that up to 3 million customers’ data was compromised, in addition to the data of a further 1000 employees. The data itself was also considered extensive by the ICO, as names, addresses, phone numbers, marital status and dates of birth were all leaked. It is further believed that some 18,000 customers had payment card details leaked as well.
The £400,000 fine issued to Carphone Warehouse was one of the largest issued by the ICO. Over 3 million records were compromised in the breach.
2018 certainly knows how to make an entrance. The Christmas turkey has barely been finished and we’re told that nearly every electronic device on the planet with an Intel processor (from servers to PCs, smart devices and more) are susceptible to not one, but possibly two of the worst critical hardware related flaws ever known (Meltdown & Spectre). Flaws that can allow a hacker to steal your data without a hint of detection. In cases like these we often hear “but I have the latest next generation antivirus software”, but it’s not going to help you here I’m afraid. “And I have the latest next generation firewall and a state of the art SIEM solution just installed” – no good for fixing this either. You may even be really good and have your staff trained in security awareness and your systems backed up offsite – but unfortunately neither will address the root cause of this global issue. Even Santa couldn’t help fix this one – that’s how serious this is.
The hardware flaws have been aptly named “Meltdown” and “Spectre”. They sound like something straight out of a James Bond spy movie – and to be honest – the names aren’t far off, given if exploited, spying on you is exactly what a hacker could do. Predictions have already come in from experts that this could be the biggest disaster in IT history, and similar to the KRACK WiFi vulnerability of last year, Meltdown and Spectre could take years to fully fix. While important workarounds are available in some cases and must be put in place (see below) , only a hardware redesign in processor architecture will truly lay these bugs to rest.
To make matters worse, now that the crafty hackers know about it and with the EU GDPR data protection regulation coming into force on the 25th May – we predict, this year is going to see some considerable cyber-attacks that will try to take advantage of at least one of these flaws which may result in some pretty serious data breaches and some serious GDPR related fines. Its time like these one would think “Why did we ever go paperless?”.