Generally speaking, 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, but in terms of cyber security it was unspeakably bad. As the quantity of remote workers hit an all-time high and the fear of a global pandemic weighted heavily on everyone’s mind, the target environment for phishing campaigns was “rich”. In fact, as F5 found  (Warburton, n.d.), “This year we found that phishing incidents rose by a staggering 220% compared to the yearly average during the height of global pandemic fears.” That is a rather large increase.

In the following article, we will cover some of the most significant cyber security incidents that happened in 2020 in no particular order. Why are they presented in no order? Because 2020.

Microsoft Breach, Jan 2020 – Microsoft alleged that a misconfiguration in their customer support database left 250 million entries available for attackers to view. While they claim that there is no evidence of actual attackers viewing the data, unauthenticated data access of this magnitude is nothing to scoff at.

The situation was remedied by Microsoft security engineers on the last day of 2019. They were able to restrict the database and prevent unauthorized access. Even though Microsoft says that there was no personally identifiable information exposed, there still exists the chance that attackers have accessed that data and have not disclosed anything yet.

Cit0Day Breach – A site for hackers to buy and sell hacked databases and credential dumps, Cit0Day provided a platform where hackers could sell their wares without fear of attribution. Unfortunately, in 2020, the site, including all of the leaked databases advertised on the site we leaked. According to (Cimpanu, 2020), the leak contained over 23,000 credentials databases worth of credentials. That was equal to 226 million different records in all of these databases.

Although a majority of these databases were fairly old, the likelihood of credentials still being useable is quite high. We know that credential reuse is a major problem and employers should be on the lookout for the possibility that you or your employee’s credentials have been captured in some of these dumps.

Facebook Breach, April 2020 – In a blog post, the Facebook security team announced that they had suffered a data breach and 267 million identities were exposed. Security researchers from Cyble Inc were able to execute the purchase of the dump for 500 Euros, or the equivalent of $540. That purchase gave them access to all of the reported 267 million identities that were advertised by the attackers.

Researchers were unable to pinpoint how the attackers gained access to the information, but presume that it may have been through third-party API leaks or site scraping on the part of the attackers.

Instagram/TikTok/YouTube Breach, Aug 2020 – In August of 2020, Social Data, a company that scrapes websites and sells that data suffered a breach and exposed 235 million users’ profiles to those with access. This breach did include personally identifiable information as well as profile photos and ages of last posts.

Although the company Social Data claims that the data was available to anyone with internet access, Instagram, owned by Mark Z and the Facebook crew claim that any scraping of their site is in clear violation of their policies.

As we have shown here, websites that collect user data will always be prime targets and we expect these types of breaches will only continue in 2021. While we can’t predict the future, we presume that a shift of culture to at home work will only increase in popularity in 2021. Security teams can do everything in their power to secure their networks and data, but exposure to the internet and third-party API access will continue to be a problem this year. Phishing will always be a major obstacle to overcome for security teams, and as much as software vendors claim that their platforms can help you secure your email process, the best answer to phishing campaigns is vigilant users.

With a $4 billion cost to known breaches in 2020, cybersecurity threats facing organizations can feel overwhelming.  Black Harbor is available to help you make sure that those vulnerabilities that the attackers are taking advantage of are secured and your data remains secure. Contact us via email or through our contact form and we would be happy to discuss your security goals and how we can help to achieve them in 2021.

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