From the rising costs of data breaches to the dangers of poor password hygiene, explore the biggest cybersecurity stories from the month in our June Breach Report.
Security Topics of the Month
Small Businesses Suffer More Than a Quarter of All Breaches
According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses are increasingly the target of cybercriminals. The report, which analyzed more than 157,000 cybersecurity incidents, found that 28% were directed at small businesses.
Previously, cybercriminals have targeted larger organizations as the rate of return was often higher. However, a transition to cloud computing and the use of social engineering attacks, like phishing scams, has increased the risk for small businesses.
In response, small businesses need to prioritize cybersecurity, because a data breach has an outsized effect on smaller organizations. The report encourages small businesses to invest in continuous vulnerability management. It recommends they secure their email infrastructure to protect themselves from the growing threat of phishing attacks. It’s also essential that companies recognize and identify insider threat sources and eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Since small businesses often lack the in-house cybersecurity resources to implement a 360-degree defensive strategy, partnering with a managed services provider like Elevity can fill any gaps and provide essential cybersecurity support.
One last item to note. Using tools and services that support good password hygiene, offering things like single sign-on, two-factor authentication, and other password-oriented enhancements, and enforcing stricter password reuse and sharing policies can help mitigate the risk of password compromise through password reuse and weakness.
New Trouble from Users Who Rarely Update Their Passwords
According to research by the Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, even after a data breach, users rarely voluntarily update their credentials, and only 13% did so within three months of a known breach.
Updating passwords consistently is an essential security tool. Part of protecting a company’s data and systems from bad actors requires knowing when that company’s credentials have been compromised – and that compromise isn’t always on them. A third-party breach can also put corporate passwords at risk unexpectedly.
Data Breach Costs Exceeded $1.2 Trillion for U.S. Companies in 2019
Data breaches have enormous consequences for companies, including recovery and repair expenses, reputational damage, potential regulatory penalties – all of which spell financial loss. This week, a new report illustrates just how significant the financial consequences of a data breach can be.
In 2019, some major data breaches spelled disaster for heavyweight firms. With more than five billion records compromised in 2019, breaches are estimated to have collectively cost companies $1.2 trillion, nearly double the sum from 2018.
Healthcare was the most targeted sector in 2019, with 382 total breaches – a startling 100% year-over-year increase. It’s shaping up to be number one in 2020 as well. In addition to healthcare, banking, insurance, education, government, and retail were among the top targets of cybercriminals.
Taken together, personally identifiable information was the most sought after commodity. In response, it’s clear that companies need to take action to secure their systems and data now, especially as remote work compounds the risk of a cybersecurity incident. While today’s threat landscape is expansive and pervasive, every organization can improve its defensive posture by addressing the most prominent risks, including unauthorized access, phishing scams, and malware.
460 Million Records Reported Stolen in May
A tally of May cybersecurity instances found that 460 million records were compromised last month, marking another staggering total in an already-historic year for cybersecurity. However, the sum only represents the beginning of the problem, as many data breaches are going unreported because companies fear regulatory repercussions and customer blowback. In addition, many data breaches also expose reams of sensitive personal data, making it difficult to quantify the full scope of the problem.
For businesses, this information has two prominent implications. First, there is a growing need to identify compromised data on the Dark Web. As more records are stolen and distributed in the dark corners of the internet, companies need eyes and ears to know if their information is among the mountain of stolen data.
What’s more, the sheer number of compromised records makes it more important than ever for organizations to put additional barriers between their IT infrastructure and bad actors. If your staffer is reusing a password from a compromised retail account or using their pet’s name to log in, that can put you at risk for a breach by making it easy for cybercriminals to find a way into your systems.
Ransomware is Everywhere & Every Company is At Risk
Ransomware is a growing menace to companies of every size and has surged to become even more popular as a means of attack. During the global pandemic, researchers reported that ransomware attacks have skyrocketed, increasing by more than 140% over 2019.
Ransomware has not only become more pervasive, it’s also become more expensive. The expected cost of a ransomware attack, (including recovery, remediation, and ransoms), is expected to increase to $20 billion in 2021. One U.S. oil and gas company lost a whopping $30 million to a single ransomware attack in 2019. Ransomware-related downtime can also cost a fortune.
Healthcare is an especially popular and juicy target for bad actors. Cyberattacks against healthcare industry targets have increased fivefold in 2020. Ransomware has ravaged healthcare organizations providing essential COVID-19 care in the US, Canada, the UK, and other regions impacted by the pandemic.
The most common method of delivery for ransomware is through a phishing attack. Phishing attempts have jumped over 600% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t wait until ransomware makes an impact on your bottom line – start training every staffer thoroughly to make them the strongest possible defense against the phishing attacks that aim to deliver ransomware.
At Elevity, we can help you establish effective employee training programs that will turn your users into a human firewall. Learn more on our Security page.
Are You Staying Remote? Update Your IT Security Plan.
Although many companies were accustomed to supporting a remote workforce at least part of the time before the global pandemic, every company that’s still operating had to quickly transition to a fully remote workforce as the pandemic took hold of the world – and some of them discovered that they liked it.
Many companies used to only allow limited remote work, convinced that their staffers would be less productive at home without supervision. As remote work became a necessity during the COVID-19 restrictions imposed around the world, companies that braced for decreased productivity from their newly remote workforce were in for a surprise. Instead of diminishing production, remote work was boosting it, with one study reporting that remote workers on average worked 1.4 more days in a month than they did in the office.
This has led to a sea change in the thinking about remote work. Myriad companies in a broad range of industries have already adopted or are beginning to adopt permanent remote work as a norm for staff. The enticement of smaller facility costs and more flexibility combined with added staff productivity and satisfaction is encouraging progressive companies to stay fully remote – but remote work brings its own cybersecurity risks.
If you’re considering never going back to the office or even just keeping your staff flexible with extended remote capability, you’ll need to reconsider your cybersecurity posture. Remote work may bring many benefits, but it also brings new cybersecurity challenges to the table. Choosing the right cybersecurity stack to support remote work today can save many headaches, and dollars, in the future.
The cybersecurity experts at Elevity can help you build multi-layer security protections around your organization. Learn more.
Insider Threats Have Grown by 47%
Insider threats are a top cybersecurity risk for any company, and that risk is growing rapidly. A Ponemon Institute report shows that insider threats have climbed by 47% over the last two years. Whether they come from malicious sources or just simple human errors, insider threats have the potential to devastate a business.
Malicious insiders are finding it very profitable to sell data on the Dark Web, especially COVID-19 healthcare and research data. An expanding market for credentials tempts staffers into taking advantage of lucrative opportunities to sell their access credentials, especially if they’re highly privileged. Over 25% of cyberattacks caused by insider threats come from malicious insiders.
Unintentional insider threats are less ominous and more common. More than 60% of breaches caused by insider threats are caused by staffers who aren’t trying to damage the company – they just made a mistake. Unfortunately, that mistake can be the door to a data breach that results in your information hitting the Dark Web, plus an expensive and time-consuming recovery, sometimes with regulatory penalties topping it off.
Creating an effective defense against insider threats includes choosing a dynamic cybersecurity risk protection platform with multiple solutions that work together to mitigate the risk of a bad actor gaining access to systems and data.
Here at Elevity, we believe in a layered approach to cybersecurity – where your data and network are protected by multiple tools and strategies. We can help you implement the right security solutions so your organization is protected from both external and internal threats.
Improving Password Security Improves All of Your Defenses
One of the top concerns that many businesses have when making a cybersecurity plan is how to protect themselves from cybercriminals. But that’s not the right thing to have at the top of your cybersecurity checklist. More cybersecurity incidents like a data breach are caused by human error than anything else – and one of the worst errors that many staffers make is creating a terrible password.
Bad, weak, cracked, or compromised passwords are the bread and butter of cybercrime. Login credentials are currency, especially for privileged users. The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to immediately improve your cybersecurity is to teach and enforce good password hygiene, from creation to storage.
The Month in Breach
Arbonne Employees’ Personal Info Exposed in Data Breach
A data breach has exposed the personal information of thousands of the MLM’s participants. The company detected unusual network activity on April 20th, but the incident was not revealed publicly until the end of May.
The breach specifically applies to California employees, which means regulatory authorities will likely scrutinize the incident under the California Consumer Privacy Regulation. The compromised data includes Arbonne members’ names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, purchase histories, and account passwords.
How might this data breach affect your business? Consumer sentiment has quickly shifted toward a privacy-first approach to personal information, and regulatory efforts are enforcing that priority. Data privacy laws already apply in many places, and companies should expect more regulatory scrutiny in the years ahead.
Unsecured Cloud Backups Cause Data Breach at Joomla
Developers at Joomla, an open source content management system, failed to secure backup files on a cloud storage platform. This left people’s personal data exposed to the internet. The storage platform they used doesn’t automatically encrypt data, but enabling these security features is simple, making this incident an unforced error that was easily preventable.
The data breach exposed personally identifiable information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, website addresses, business titles, encrypted passwords, IP addresses, and newsletter subscription preferences.
While the platform has secured the database, this breach will test users’ loyalty at a time when people are more willing than ever to leave businesses that can’t protect their information.
Billions of account credentials are compromised every year because of breaches just like the one at Joomla. Companies committed to cybersecurity shouldn’t rely exclusively on password integrity to protect their most critical information. Instead, make account security tools like two-factor authentication accessible for all employees.
“BlueLeaks” Data Breach Exposes Sensitive Files from Police Depts.
A security breach at Texas-based web development company Netsential led to the exposure of hundreds of thousands of potentially sensitive files from U.S. police departments. Dubbed “BlueLeaks,” this massive data breach contained 270 gigabytes of information going back 24 years, from August 1996 through June 19, 2020.
Files contained names, email addresses, phone numbers, PDF documents, images, and video, CSV, and ZIP files related to criminal investigations. Some of these files also contained sensitive financial information as well as personally identifiable information and images of suspects from law enforcement and government agency reports.
Past Breach Reports