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November Security Breach Round Up

November Security Breaches

Welcome to this month’s edition of our data breach round up, where we unravel the recent cyber threats that have sent shockwaves across industries. In a digital landscape fraught with challenges, our commitment at Findings is to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate these turbulent waters.

This month’s featured breaches spotlight the vulnerabilities that transcend sectors, from the technology giant Samsung to the healthcare domain with McLaren Health Care, and even reaching into the retail space with Dollar Tree. Each incident reveals not only the compromise of personal and sensitive data but also the profound implications for privacy, security, and trust in our increasingly interconnected world.

  1. Samsung:

    Samsung has acknowledged a significant data breach affecting its U.K. customer base. The breach, which spanned a year, was first brought to light in a statement to TechCrunch by Chelsea Simpson, a spokesperson for Samsung via a third-party agency. According to Simpson, the breach led to unauthorized access to contact details of some Samsung U.K. e-store customers. The specifics of the breach, including the number of affected customers and the method used by hackers, remain undisclosed.

    In communications with affected customers, Samsung revealed that the breach stemmed from a vulnerability in an unspecified third-party business application. This vulnerability exposed the personal data of customers who made purchases on the Samsung U.K. store from July 2019 to June 2020. The company only discovered the breach on November 13, 2023, over three years after the fact, as detailed in a letter to customers that was shared on X (formerly Twitter).

    The compromised data includes names, phone numbers, postal and email addresses, but Samsung assures that no financial information or passwords were affected. The company has reported the breach to the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), where spokesperson Adele Burns confirmed that the regulator is conducting enquiries into the incident.

    This breach marks the third such incident disclosed by Samsung in the past two years. Previous breaches include a September 2022 attack on Samsung’s U.S. systems, with undisclosed customer impact, and a March 2022 breach where Lapsus$ hackers allegedly leaked around 200 gigabytes of Samsung’s confidential data, including source codes and biometric unlock algorithms.

  2. KidSecurity:

    KidSecurity, a popular parental control app, inadvertently exposed user data due to a security oversight. The app, with over a million downloads, tracks children’s locations and activities. Researchers discovered that the app failed to secure its Elasticsearch and Logstash databases, leaving over 300 million records publicly accessible for over a month. This exposed data included 21,000 phone numbers, 31,000 email addresses, and partial credit card information.

    The unprotected data became a target for malicious actors, with indications of a compromise by the ‘Readme’ bot. Cybersecurity expert Bob Diachenko highlighted the severity of this breach, especially considering the app’s focus on children’s safety. The exposure of sensitive information such as contact details and payment information poses serious risks, including identity theft and fraud. KidSecurity had yet to comment on the breach at the time of the report.

  3. McLaren Health Care:

    McLaren Health Care recently informed its patients of a cybersecurity incident affecting its computer systems. The healthcare provider noticed suspicious activity around August 22, 2023, and immediately commenced an investigation with third-party forensic specialists. This inquiry revealed unauthorized access to McLaren’s network between July 28 and August 23, 2023, with potential data acquisition by the unauthorized party.

    A thorough review, completed by October 10, 2023, indicated that sensitive information might have been compromised. The data at risk includes names, Social Security numbers, health insurance details, medical information like diagnoses, physician details, medical records, and Medicare/Medicaid data.

    In response, McLaren has taken steps to secure its network and is reviewing and reinforcing its data protection policies and procedures. They are also offering affected individuals identity theft protection services through IDX, including credit monitoring and a $1,000,000 insurance policy, valid until February 9, 2024.

    McLaren urges individuals to stay vigilant, monitor their financial statements, and report any suspicious activity. For further assistance, IDX is available for inquiries, with representatives knowledgeable about the incident. McLaren emphasizes that, as of now, there is no evidence of misuse of the compromised information.

  4. Staples:

    Staples, a prominent American office supply retailer, recently confirmed a cyberattack that led to significant service disruptions and delivery issues. The company, operating 994 stores across the US and Canada and 40 fulfillment centers, took immediate action to contain the breach and safeguard customer data. The incident came to light following multiple Reddit posts from earlier in the week, reporting issues with Staples’ internal operations. Employees noted problems accessing various systems, including Zendesk, VPN employee portals, and email services. Comments on Reddit from Staples employees expressed surprise and concern, with one stating, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my 20 years with Staples.”

    Unconfirmed reports also suggested that employees were advised against using Microsoft 365’s single sign-on and that call center staff were sent home. Staples confirmed to BleepingComputer that they had to take protective measures against a “cybersecurity risk,” which disrupted their backend processing, product delivery, and customer service communications. Although Staples stores remain open, the company’s online operations, including staples.com, continue to face challenges. A company spokesperson stated that systems are gradually coming back online, but some delays in processing orders are expected. Staples has assured a swift return to normal operations and has posted a similar notice on their website.

    BleepingComputer reported that no ransomware or file encryption was involved in the attack. Staples’ rapid response, including shutting down networks and VPNs, may have prevented the attack from reaching its full potential. The extent of any data theft and the potential consequences, such as ransom demands, remain to be seen. This cyberattack is not Staples’ first brush with cybersecurity issues. In March 2023, Essendant, a Staples-owned distributor, faced a multi-day outage impacting online orders. Furthermore, in September 2020, a data breach at Staples exposed customer and order information due to an unpatched VPN vulnerability.

  5. Dollar Tree:

    Dollar Tree, a notable discount retail chain with stores across the United States and Canada, has been affected by a data breach involving a third-party service provider, Zeroed-In Technologies. This breach has impacted nearly 2 million individuals, specifically targeting Dollar Tree and Family Dollar employees.

    The breach, occurring between August 7 and 8, 2023, was disclosed in a notification to the Maine Attorney General. While the intrusion into Zeroed-In’s systems was confirmed, the exact details of accessed or stolen files remained unclear. Consequently, Zeroed-In conducted a thorough review to identify the compromised information, which included names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers (SSNs).

    Affected individuals have been notified and offered a twelve-month identity protection and credit monitoring service. In response to inquiries from BleepingComputer, a Family Dollar spokesperson stated, “Zeroed-In is a vendor that we and other companies use. They informed us that they identified a security incident, and they provided notice of the incident to current and former employees.”

    The breach’s impact may extend beyond Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, potentially affecting other Zeroed-In customers, although this has not been confirmed. Zeroed-In has not responded to inquiries about the incident.

    The breach’s magnitude has prompted law firms to investigate the possibility of a class-action lawsuit against Zeroed-In.

  6. General Electric:

    General Electric (GE), a prominent American multinational involved in various industries, is investigating a possible cyberattack and data theft. A hacker known as IntelBroker allegedly breached GE’s development environment, initially attempting to sell access on a hacking forum for $500. After failing to attract buyers, the threat actor claimed to offer both network access and stolen data, including sensitive military and DARPA-related information.

    IntelBroker, recognized for previous high-profile cyberattacks, provided screenshots as evidence of the breach, showing data from GE Aviation’s database on military projects. GE confirmed to BleepingComputer their awareness of these allegations and their ongoing investigation.

    IntelBroker’s past exploits include a breach of the Weee! grocery service and a significant data theft from D.C. Health Link, a healthcare marketplace used by White House and House staff. The D.C. Health Link breach, which led to a congressional hearing, revealed that a misconfigured server had exposed sensitive data online.

  7. HSE:

    Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE), Slovenia’s largest electricity provider, was recently hit by a ransomware attack. Despite this, the company’s power generation remained unaffected. HSE, which accounts for about 60% of Slovenia’s domestic power production, managed to contain the attack within a few days.

    The company’s IT systems and files were encrypted, but operational functions continued normally. HSE informed national cybersecurity authorities and the police, and engaged external experts for mitigation. While no ransom demand has been received yet, the company remains cautious during the cleanup process.

    Unofficial sources attribute the attack to the Rhysida ransomware gang, known for high-profile attacks without immediate ransom demands. The breach might have occurred through stolen passwords from unprotected cloud storage, although this has not been confirmed. Rhysida has been active since May 2023 and is notorious for targeting various organizations internationally. HSE is yet to issue a formal response to these allegations.

The array of cyberattacks faced by the companies above demonstrate the complexity and severity of the cybersecurity landscape. These incidents serve as stark reminders of the persistent threats in the digital domain, urging organizations to fortify their defenses and adopt more robust data protection measures. As the aftermath of these breaches unfolds, it is imperative for companies to not only address the immediate security gaps but also to engage in proactive measures to safeguard against future threats. Furthermore, these events underscore the need for ongoing vigilance, transparency, and collaboration among businesses, regulatory bodies, and cybersecurity experts to enhance the resilience of our digital ecosystem against such pervasive and evolving threats.

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