(In)secure post New Year digest: “temporary” failures, corporate insider and data on everyone

The time has come to discuss what happened while we were on a vacation. In our traditional digest we have gathered some impressive information security incidents reported by mass media this month. For instance, you will find data on hackers, who disrupted The Guardian infrastructure and an employee who turned into a corporate spy.


Data on everybody, without exception

Situation: data on 235 million Twitter social network users was exposed.

Case study: cyber experts revealed that database, containing information on social network users was freely shared on the internet. The following users’ data was exposed:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Number of subscribers
  • Profile creation date

Hudson Rock technical director Alon Gal named this incident the largest data leak in history and supposed that it will lead to increase in the amount of cyber attacks on users. The expert also claimed that the database leaked contained data relevant at the end of 2021. Supposedly, the data in the leaked database was gathered with the help of web scraping.


Insider and just a good employee

Situation: а former GE Power engineer was pleaded guilty in economic espionage and theft of confidential information.

Case study: a NYC resident Xiaoqing Zheng had worked as an engineer in GE Power for ten years. According to the judicial opinion the former employee colluded with accomplices and leaked them GE Power developments, related to ground-based and aviation-based turbine technologies. The man also set the company in China, which was involved in the development of details for turbines. GE Power officials claimed that the engineer had been saving confidential data on his corporate PC from 2017. A year later he transferred 40 files containing secret data to a temporary folder and then sent them to his private email. The engineer was pleaded guilty and sentenced to 2 years. What’s more, the former employee was made to pay a fine equal to 7.500 $.

However, there is a solution to control your employees' activities.


Malicious attacks 

Situation: hackers attacked The Guardian. As a result of the attack, employees’ personal data was compromised.

Case study: before the Christmas holidays The Guardian was attacked with ransomware. It is known, that The Guardian internal systems were damaged badly. 

While internal systems are being recovered, the company officials ask employees to work remotely, supposedly until February. 

Researcher Kevin Beaumont claimed that the incident may have far-reaching consequences. In fact, they may be more serious than The Guardian experts believe, because the entire internal network was disabled and employees were asked to work on their own devices for a while.

The Guardian representatives did not disclose details on types of employees’ data illicitly obtained by intruders, however, they claimed that no data has been exposed yet. One more company, which was affected in the ransomware incident - Home Care Providers of Texas. According to the company representatives, unknown intruders managed to steal data on 124.000 patients. This included:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Social security numbers
  • Specific data on the diagnosis and treatment
  • Data on specific drugs.


Anxious millions

Situation: Usain Bolt lost 12 million dollars because of bank fraud.

Case study: according to sportsman advocate, Usain Bolt lost more than 12.7 million dollars which were kept on a bank account in a private investment company in Jamaica. 

According to the sportsman representatives, now only $ 12.000 are left on his bank account. What’s more, the investment company will face civil and criminal charges if the sum is not compensated to the sportsman within ten days term. 

It was also reported, that a few Stocks & Securities Limited clients experienced similar incidents: money, kept on their bank accounts somehow simply vanished. Stocks & Securities Limited officials did not immediately respond to different accusations as well as did not provide comments on the requests by mass media representatives. However, lately on the corporate website the company officials asked all the affected parties to send all the urgent queries to Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission, which performs the investigation.

According to Stocks & Securities Limited officials, at the beginning of January an alleged fraud was revealed, as a result several clients may lose millions of dollars. Jamaica's finance minister, Nigel Clarke, named the case as an alarming one.


Temporary failures

Situation: Yum! Brands corporation, which is the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands fell victim to cybercriminals.

Case study: it turned out that in January Yum! Brands fell victim to an attack performed with the help of ransomware. Company representatives stated that after suspicious activities were detected in the IT-infrastructure, an investigation was initiated immediately. Because of the incident Yum! Brands had to shut about 300 of their restaurants for a day. Although the incident caused temporary problems, the company representatives claimed that there is still no evidence that client databases were stolen or exposed.

Subscribe to get helpful articles and white papers. We discuss industry trends and give advice on how to deal with data leaks and cyberincidents.