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Hacks, Attacks and Breaches: 3/19/2020 to 3/24/2020

Suzanne Gassman

Here’s the latest installment of the Hacks, Attacks and Breaches cybersecurity news update.

The Logically team provides top cyber security stories every week to keep you up to date on the latest news headlines on cybersecurity, hacking, computer security, ransomware and other cybersecurity threats.

Switzerland – World Health Organization

Exploit: Phishing scam
World Health Organization: United Nations agency responsible for international public health  

Risk to Small Business: Hospital workers are receiving an email purportedly from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization (WHO). The email contains a personalized message using the recipients’ valid username and an innocuous-looking attachment. Unfortunately, it’s a phishing attack – when the attachment is opened, it installs malware capable of stealing credentials from the computer. According to cybersecurity researchers, the messages specifically prey on the altruism of recipients, by purporting to include information about novel, preventative drugs and COVD-19 cures.

How it Could Affect Your Business: In 2020, clever spear phishing emails are par for the course when it comes to anticipated attack vectors, and the bad guys are making them look more authentic all the time. Rather than allowing employees to fall for these scams, possibly compromising company and customer data along the way, keep them alert for trouble by providing regular phishing scam awareness training that accounts for the latest trends and encompasses all the possible vulnerabilities.

United States – Open Exchange Rates

Exploit: Unauthorized database access
Open Exchange Rates: Currency data provider

Risk to Small Business: While investigating a network misconfiguration, Open Exchange Rates discovered that an unauthorized user was accessing their network. Ultimately, it was determined that the hacker had been accessing their database for nearly a month, beginning on February 9, 2020, and ending on March 2, 2020. The company believes that hackers extracted sensitive user information. In response, Open Exchange Rates has disabled the passwords for all accounts created before March 2, 2020.

How it Could Affect Your Business: Although it’s a relatively small operation, Open Exchange Rates provides an API that is used by several prominent financial service providers. As a result, the costs of repairing this breach will be compounded by reputational damage that could impact its relationship with these critical partners.

United States – TrueFire

Exploit: Malware attack
TrueFire: Online music school

Risk to Small Business: On January 10th, TrueFire identified unauthorized access to its database by a mysterious user who was active for more than six months. It’s unclear why the company waited until March to disclose the incident to its customers. The breach compromised users who made online purchases between August 3, 2019, and January 14, 2020. Although the company didn’t explicitly categorize the breach, payment skimming malware is likely responsible for the theft, which included users’ personal and financial data from their online purchases of classes and services.      

How it Could Affect Your Business: Customers increasingly prefer shopping online rather than going to physical stores. Especially now, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces people to stay home, online stores are a vital lifeline for SMBs to continue generating revenue while people stay off the streets. Therefore, protecting the checkout process must be a top priority, as many customers will be gone for good if their personal or financial data is compromised through mishandled data on the merchant’s end when they make online purchases.

United States – College of Dupage

Exploit: Accidental data exposure 
College of Dupage: Academic institution 

Risk to Small Business: The College of Dupage accidentally exposed the 2018 W-2 forms of current and former employees. In a statement, the school identified the risk of data misuse as low. In reality, even one cybercriminal misusing this information could pose significant consequences for a potential victim. The breach occurred as the College of Dupage is preparing to move its services online due to the spread of COVID-19, forcing the cancellation of in-person classes – a  timely reminder that in uncertain times information security will still be top-of-mind for end-users, whether they are consumers, staffers, patients, or students. 

How it Could Affect Your Business: In response to the incident, the College of Dupage is updating its data management standards to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future. Unfortunately, these updated protocols will not undo the damage for the nearly 2,000 victims of this data breach. Rather than waiting until a cybersecurity incident occurs, companies should prioritize a reevaluation of their practices to ensure that customer and company data is secure before a breach occurs.