In an era dominated by digital connectivity, the frequency and impact of data breaches continue to escalate, leaving individuals and organizations vulnerable to devastating consequences. From state-sponsored hacking campaigns to opportunistic cybercriminals, the realm of data security is constantly under siege. Recent events have once again thrust data breaches into the spotlight, as major corporations and industry giants grapple with the aftermath of malicious intrusions. In this blog post, I will delve into a series of alarming incidents that have unfolded in May 2023, shedding light on the tactics employed, the extent of compromised information, and the potential ramifications for affected individuals and businesses. Brace yourself for an eye-opening exploration of the evolving threat landscape as we navigate the treacherous waters of data breaches and their far-reaching impact.
On May 24,2023, Microsoft reported that it found targeted malicious activity by Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored group from China, aiming to access unauthorized credentials and explore critical infrastructure networks in the US. This campaign supposedly intends to disrupt communication infrastructure between the US and Asia during future crises. Volt Typhoon has been active since mid-2021, primarily targeting critical infrastructure organizations in Guam and other US regions across various sectors. They employ stealth techniques, living-off-the-land methods, and manipulate systems using command line instructions. The threat actor maintains persistent access and attempts to conceal their activities by routing network traffic through compromised SOHO network equipment.
Sysco, a major U.S. multinational food distribution corporation, recently revealed that approximately 126,243 current and former employees may have had their sensitive data accessed and acquired in a cyberattack that took place in January. According to notification letters sent to affected individuals, Sysco’s systems were initially breached on January 14, but the intrusion was only discovered nearly two months later. The company assured that its operational systems, business functions, and customer services remained unaffected by the breach. While specific details about the data accessed for each individual are yet to be confirmed, Sysco stated that the compromised information may include personal data provided for payroll purposes, such as names, Social Security numbers, account numbers, or similar information.
On May 26, 2023, Managed Care of North America (MCNA) Dental published a data breach notification on its website, informing approximately 9 million patients that their personal data was compromised. MCNA Dental is one of the largest government-sponsored (Medicaid and CHIP) dental care and oral health insurance providers in the U.S. On March 6, 2023, the insurance provider discovered unauthorized activity in their computer system. They took immediate action to halt the activity and initiated an investigation with the assistance of a specialized team. It was determined that an unauthorized user was able to access and make copies of certain information between February 26, 2023, and March 7, 2023. The potentially compromised information includes contact details such as first and last name, address, date of birth, phone number, and email address. Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or other government-issued ID numbers were also accessed. Additionally, health insurance information such as plan details, insurance company information, member numbers, and Medicaid-Medicare ID numbers may have been involved. Specific information related to dental care, including visits, dentist and doctor names, past treatments, x-rays/photos, prescribed medicines, and treatment details, as well as bills and insurance claims, were also potentially exposed.
NextGen Healthcare, a vendor of cloud-based electronic health records, has been informing over 1 million individuals about a data compromise that involves the unauthorized acquisition of login credentials. This incident marks at least the second alleged data security breach that the company has probed since January. The company explained an unknown third-party gained unauthorized access to a limited set of personal data between March 29, 2023, and April 14, 2023. The accessed information includes names, dates of birth, addresses, and social security numbers. Out of the 198 significant breaches of health data that have been reported on the Department of Health and Human Services’ HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool website in 2023, impacting a total of 17.4 million individuals, it has been disclosed that at least 75 of these incidents affecting 9.8 million individuals were reported to involve business associates. Approximately 38% of the major health data breaches reported on the HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool website in 2023 involved vendors and other business associates. Interestingly, despite accounting for a smaller proportion of breaches, these incidents were responsible for impacting 56% of the individuals affected by breaches in the healthcare sector.
Luxottica, the world’s largest eyewear company known for brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Chanel, has officially confirmed a data breach that occurred in 2021 via BleepingComputer. The breach exposed the personal information of approximately 70 million customers when a database was recently made available for free on hacking forums. Luxottica revealed that one of its partners experienced the breach, involving a security incident that affected a third-party contractor responsible for holding customer data. The exposed data includes sensitive details such as full customer names, email addresses, phone numbers, residential addresses, and dates of birth. Luxottica emphasized that financial information, social security numbers, login credentials, and other critical data that could endanger customer safety were not compromised. The FBI has made an arrest in connection with the incident, resulting in the shutdown of the website where the data was published.
On May 11, 2023, Brightly informed present and past SchoolDude users that a security incident occurred. SchoolDude is an online platform used by educational institutions for placing and tracking maintenance work orders. Information such as name, email address, account password, phone number, and school district name were potentially breached.
On May 8, 2023, Dragos, a company specializing in industrial cybersecurity, experienced a failed extortion scheme by a cybercriminal group. The group gained unauthorized access by compromising the personal email of a new sales employee, allowing them to impersonate a Dragos employee and access resources in SharePoint and the contract management system. Although they accessed a report with customer IP addresses, Dragos’ security controls prevented the threat actor from deploying ransomware or making further infrastructure changes. The cybercriminals resorted to extortion attempts, escalating their messages and contacting Dragos executives and known contacts. However, Dragos chose not to engage with the criminals and promptly activated their incident response retainer and involved their third-party MDR provider. The investigation is ongoing, but Dragos has implemented additional verification steps for their onboarding process and emphasizes identity and access management, multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring, and incident response preparedness.
In other news, in May, it was discovered that Apple banned its employees from using generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GitHub’s Copilot due to concerns about potential data leaks and disclosure of sensitive information. Apple’s decision is based on the fact that OpenAI stores all user interactions by default, including conversations with ChatGPT, which are used for training and subject to moderation. While OpenAI introduced an option to disable chat history, conversations are retained for 30 days for abuse review before permanent deletion. Apple worries that employees may unintentionally reveal confidential project information within ChatGPT, which could be accessed by OpenAI moderators. Similar restrictions have been implemented by other companies like JP Morgan, Verizon, and Amazon. Despite the ban, OpenAI recently launched an iOS app for ChatGPT, making Apple’s decision notable, considering the app’s availability and future expansion plans.
As data breaches continue to make headlines, it becomes abundantly clear that the protection of sensitive information is of paramount importance. The incidents highlighted in this blog post serve as a stark reminder that no individual or organization is immune to the persistent and ever-evolving threats posed by cybercriminals. As we move forward, it is imperative for individuals and businesses alike to prioritize robust security measures, including stringent access controls, advanced encryption protocols, and employee education programs. By staying vigilant, proactive, and informed, companies can fortify their defenses and mitigate the risks associated with data breaches.