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Interesting article that states the impact of the OPM breach could cause an impact for the next 40 years.
I’m just going to say, after some conversations I’ve had with some people over this past weekend, I think the breach could last a whole lot longer than 40 years. In fact, I would go so far as saying that the damage caused by the breach, will never be repaired. Think of the long-lasting impact this will have on family members of those affected by the breach. If someone was able to pull up all the information, on say, your Grandpa, and was able to give you any/all information, you could ever want to know about him, wouldn’t that effect your trust with that person, and wouldn’t you be slightly more likely to release other information to him, as you see they already have a bunch of information? From an intelligence gathering operation, the amount of information contained in the SF-86 form, is crazy; there is so much information in the SF-86, it literally took me 3 days to fill out that form.
From the Article at FedScoop:
The theft of background investigation data on millions of federal employees and contractors has created a massive threat to U.S. national security that will last for decades and cost billions of dollars to monitor, current and former intelligence officials said.
The Office of Personnel Management announced last week that personal data on 21.5 million individuals was compromised by the hack of the agency’s background investigation database. That includes 19.7 million individuals that applied for a security clearance, and 1.8 million non-applicants, predominantly spouses or co-habitants of applicants.
But while the focus continues to be on OPM’s efforts to fix vulnerabilities in the system used to manage background investigation data, known as Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP), as well as the 30 day cybersecurity sprint ordered by the Office of Management and Budget, intelligence experts say there is little the agency can do to reverse the damage that has already been done.
Source: Courier Press
As a follow-up, to a previous article, written earlier today.
Shocked to hear more details about the hack that occurred; ok, not really. As I suspected, the attack came in from a phishing campaign.
Source: Healthcare IT News
I don’t usually do this, but I’ll start of this post, with a quote from Health Care IT News:
Think healthcare is not a target for cyberattacks? Think again. Following a pattern of increasing attack frequency, one Indiana-based hospital is the newest target, after hackers swiped the personal data of thousands.
So, you look over the part of the sensationalism associated with this article, you know, the “Think healthcare is not a target for cyberattacks” portion, it really makes you wonder about that state of security in the healthcare industry. Why is the healthcare industry being struck again and again?
Having come from that field of work, I know the answer, in fact, I can 99% guarantee you, that I know the cause of the recent hacking of St. Mary’s Medical Center. Not because I have insider knowledge into the incident that occurred, but because I know the industry, I know where the weaknesses are, and I know that nobody is doing anything to combat these problems.
I’m not a betting man, but I would be willing to take a wager, that I know exactly what happened with this incident, here we go:
Hackers/Crackers/Attackers probably got St. Mary’s Medical Center on their radar from another hacked hospital/healthcare organization. Probably by scouring email from the attacked organization. I would wager that St. Mary’s did nothing to provoke the attack.
Once attackers got St. Mary’s Medical Center’s domain name, maybe a doctor or staff member’s name and email address; a little bit of simple recon occurred, scouring for more doctors and more administrator’s names and email addresses. Also, a little bit of scouting probably occurred on the website, with bad guys looking for VPN services, remote email, or something similar, that they could log into with the proper credentials.
Once a decent list of names and emails were collected, that is when the phishing attempts began. Maybe a phishing email about how to reset your password, or a phishing email offering a raise, and you need to enter your email information. They don’t need many submissions, they only need a couple, and with that, they can leverage more and more information.
Once they have working credentials for a user or two, the attacker is then able to leverage an attack into the infrastructure, by sending out emails, as a “trusted source”, requesting user’s visit a page to dish up their credentials; which leads to an avalanche effect, where they are able to gain more and more credentials.
Next revelation, will be a little bit shocking to most, but the Personal Health Information (PHI) data that was stolen, was most likely a “secondary” target of the breach. From my experience, I have seen that attackers are motivated by more substantial, quicker, and easier ways of getting money, rather than selling PHI data. What I believe the primary goal of the attackers, was to see if they could access the doctor’s HR files, and be able to modify the doctor’s direct deposit information, to a known bank account, where the attackers could take the money and run. PHI will provide some potential money for the attackers, however, the primary source could come from the doctor’s paychecks.
So, there you have it. There is my guess on what occurred at St. Mary’s. We may see, in the upcoming months what really happened, but that is my bet on what happened.
The only other option, is that St. Mary’s could hire some big name company to help them access the damage, and they could flip it around, to say it was a nation-state actor, who was trying to get there hands on super-secret formularies for a new breakthrough cure-all drug, that St. Mary’s, a 585 bed hospital bed is producing; but in the end, we all know that would be a lie.
Like so many other people, I woke up yesterday morning, to find myself reading another breach notification (see: here). Only to find news about the Anthem hack.
This time, it was a letter from Anthem, notifying me that my health information may have been compromised. Also, in reading the letter, I saw that Mandiant and the FBI had been retained for the purpose of investigating the breach.
I usually come to the same conclusion every time I hear certain things together. When I hear about a breach affected a HIPAA agency, I usually start thinking about a phishing/spear-phishing campaign that occurred, which usually results in someone giving up the details of their account/VPN; followed by the immediate breach, and scouring of their website for information and data.
The other thing I always think of, when Mandiant comes rushing to the scene is the immediate blame to a state-run actor. Of course, China, whose population is 1.35B, is going to find the SSN of impacted customers useful; oh wait, what value is there in the SSN of people of a foreign land. Or better yet, with the joke I make about the hack of CHS. Again, the problem I see, is what is the value of a SSN to a foreign country? Some claims went on, to say they were after formularies associated with drugs and medicine, which several news agencies ran with. But consider this, hospitals don’t have the same sort of pharmaceutical horse-power that huge drug manufacturers have; I would go so far, as to say that they aren’t even comparable.
So once again, I will ask, what value does a SSN have to a nation-state?
UPDATE: First posts about this being a state-sponsored attack are now emerging.
A scary new statistic out about why it is important to maintain security within your organization. Please contact us to help you ensure that your company isn’t being actively attacked, and to secure not only your exterior, but your internal systems as well.
Here is a short quote from the article:
In a rapidly shifting attack landscape against the backdrop of a hackers’ black market worth billions, if you wait to pentest — you lose.
Still, unless required by law, too many companies and organizations only do a penetration test when they have to.
Often, it’s because they need to comply with regulations or they’ve been told they need to prove they’re secure, in which case it’s a checklist security audit by the numbers.
Most unfortunately, too many only do a penetration test after they’ve been scorched: When hackers have successfully gotten in, executed a payload, and made off with valuable IP, records, customer PII, and cost the company more than it probably knows or can calculate.
The recent celebrity hacking incident and Home Depot data breach may have you worried about your online security, and rightly so. As we bring more aspects of our lives online — social, shopping, banking, storage — the risks of cyber crime increase. But there are ways you can better protect yourself.
In this guide, I’ll outline some steps you can take to safeguard your various Web accounts and devices. The recommendations come from several Internet security experts I spoke with, including Laura Iwan, senior vice president of programs at the Center for Internet Security; Sean Sullivan, security adviser at F-Secure (an antivirus and online security solution provider); and Timo Hiroven, senior researcher at F-Secure. There are also tips on how to detect if you’ve been hacked and what to do about it.
There are numerous precautions that you can take in order to protect yourself from hackers. One of the easiest and most simple ways is to create strong, unique passwords for every one of your accounts. Yet most people don’t.
While it’s tempting to use something like your child’s name and birthday because it’s easier to remember, creating a password with a random mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and characters will be harder to crack.
There are password apps like LastPass and 1Password that can help you with this by generating strong passcodes for each of your accounts. Plus, they’ll keep track of them all. When choosing such a program, Iwan recommends that you look for one that uses an industry-accepted standard for encryption like Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, and one that stores your passwords locally on your computer, rather than in the cloud.
Another safety measure you should take is to enable two-factor authentication when available. Two-factor authentication requires a user to provide an extra form of identification beyond just your login ID and password. This may be a special PIN code that’s sent to your phone, a physical token like a key fob, or your fingerprint.
Two-factor authentication isn’t impervious to attacks, but it does add an extra layer of protection. Many popular Web services, including Gmail, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter,Facebook and Dropbox offer two-factor authentication, so take the extra few minutes to turn it on.
Be suspicious of emails asking for personal information. A lot of hackers use a method called “phishing” that aims to gather sensitive data from you by sending an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate entity like your bank or credit card company. Some signs of a scam might be requests for immediate action, spelling and grammar mistakes, and suspicious links. Do not respond to these. Instead, call up the institution that supposedly sent the email and confirm if it’s legit or alert them to the issue.
Also, it should go without saying, but in general, don’t click on suspicious links or browse unsafe websites. Only install applications that come from trusted, well-known sources. And be sure that the operating system and apps on your computers and mobile devices are updated with the latest versions and patches.
Here are some more specific tips for different Internet activities:
Email and social accounts
- Think twice about what you post to your social networks, and monitor what others are posting about you. There’s a chance that hackers might use your social profile pages to gather personal information about you, and try to guess your password or answers to your secret question.
- Related to that, check your account’s privacy settings to make sure you’re only sharing information with your friends, and not with the public.
- Sullivan also recommends creating separate email addresses for your personal communication and everything else. For example, you might use a throwaway email address for news websites that make you register with a user name and password, or for retailers who want to send you coupons.
- If you back up your files to the cloud, remember that even though you delete them on your computer or mobile device, they’re still stored in your cloud account. To completely delete the file, you’ll also need to remove it from your backup cloud account.
- Don’t use public computers or public Wi-Fi networks to make any transactions. The machines might contain malicious software that can collect your credit card information, and criminals could also be monitoring public Wi-Fi networks for similar information.
- Don’t respond to pop-up windows.
- Secure your home Wi-Fi network using WPA-2 with AES encryption settings. There’s a good tutorial on how to do that here.
- Set your Web browser to auto-update to ensure that you’re running the most current version.
Know the signs
How do you know if you’ve been hacked? There may be some obvious signs. For example, you may start getting emails from your friends saying they received a strange message from your email address. Or your bank or credit card company might call you about some suspicious activity on your account. If you installed a mobile app with malware on your smartphone, you might find some unauthorized charges on your phone bill.
There are other, more subtle indicators. You may find new toolbars installed on your Web browser, or new software on your computer. Your computer may also start behaving strangely or slow to a crawl.
These are all signs that you might have been hacked.
I’ve been hacked. Now what?
If you have been hacked, the first thing you should do is reset your passwords. Iwan recommends starting with your email account, followed by your financial and other critical accounts. This is because password resets for all your other accounts are typically sent to your email.
If you’re locked out of your account or blocked from accessing it, many Web services have steps in place so you can get back in. For example, Facebook has a system where you can use a trusted source like a friend to take back your account. Search each service’s help section for specific instructions.
Speaking of friends, you should let your contacts know that you’ve been hacked, and report the issue to the site. Also, run a scan of your computer or mobile device using a trusted and up-to-date antivirus program.
In the case of identity theft, order a copy of your credit reports, and file an initial fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Contact your local police and report the identity theft, and request new cards from your bank and credit card companies. You should also continue to monitor your monthly statements for any more unusual activity.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of hack attacks and other cyber crimes. But by taking some safeguards and arming yourself with the knowledge of what actions to take in the event of an attack, you can help better protect yourself and minimize damage.