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2022's IT Security Incident Round-Up


This year has definitely seen its fair share of security events, blunders and successes. With a sharp increase in cyber crimes year over year, there is no sign of it slowing down. The US alone was estimated to have had $6.9 billion (yes, billion with a B) in losses to cyber crime in 2021. The final figures for 2022 won't be in until the spring but I have a sneaking suspicion it's not going to be a smaller number. After all, if criminals are succeeding and making money, why would they quit? There was a marked increase in Tech Support scams, where bad-actors use phishing or malicious links to lead their victims to a website with a pop-up claiming that their computer has been compromised and is in desperate need of help by their tech department, if you only give them your credit card information and access to your PC. That's only one of a multitude of attacks targeting individuals, but the real money is in hitting big businesses and there has been plenty of that as well.


It doesn't matter the size of the organization, we're all subject to attacks and risk. Even Microsoft had a data breach on the 20th of March. A coordinated effort by hacking group Lapsus$ ended up compromising a number of Microsoft products. There was some data extricated but, kudos to Microsoft, the breach was shut down by March 22nd and only one account was compromised. According to reports, no customer data was accessed either. This is a good response from Microsoft, which is understandable as they had come under fire with how long it took to address some Zero-Day exploits in On-Premise Exchange servers and the ongoing 'Print Nightmare' vulnerability issues.


The rise and (pretty ugly) fall of Cryptocurrencies was also in security news when hackers managed to steal $18 million in Bitcoin and $15 million in Ethereum from 500 users' crypto wallets on Crypto.com. The rough part about the crypto thefts is how volatile the market is. That Bitcoin that was worth $18 million on January 17th is worth about $7.1 million based on the market open price today, December 12th. In the end, thieves still got a rich payday from this incident so there is zero chance crypto wallets are out of the sights of hackers now.


Cash App, a popular money trading platform, had a disgruntled former employee breach its environment in April, reminding us that potential risk can come from anywhere - especially internally. Thankfully, no money was lost from customers and no end-user accounts had their credentials compromised, but it was still embarrassing for the company as they had clearly not cleaned up access after this employee was terminated.


Later in the year, the state of New York took popular fast fashion vender SHEIN to task for failing to disclose that the seller's payment systems had been breached. It really only came to be public knowledge when the credit card providers found SHEIN customer's personal details and payment information up for sale on some dark web hacker forums. This further highlights the need for transparency so customers know what has happened and what risk they are going to face.


On the extreme end of things, the island nation of Vanuatu east of Australia was hit with a ransomware attack so devastating that government officials have had to resort to paper notebooks, typewriters, personal Gmail accounts and other archaic solutions to keep government services running.


I could go on endlessly about other breaches;

  • Twitter lost 5.4 million accounts when data was stolen (long before Elon started to poke holes in the hull of that ship)

  • Uber had one of their security incident response team get socially engineered (we covered this in a little more detail here, if you're curious)

  • WhatsApp saw 487 million users' account data up for sale on the dark web

So going into 2023, the need to secure your organization has to scale accordingly. Multi-factor authentication should be a default. Training and education for users should be default. Having conversations with your staff, vendors and other players that have access to your systems should be default. The world as a whole needs to shift the attitude and thinking about the importance of information technology and the role it plays in society. Security should not be seen as a hindrance more than locking the doors to your home is to protect yourself and your belongings. But even locking your front door doesn't help if a stranger comes to the door, says they're your lost uncle with millions of dollars for you and you open the door and let them in.


So be safe, be suspect of anything out of the ordinary and you should be able to keep YOUR company off next year's list.


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