This September, one of the largest data breaches of all time came to light. According to WIRED, a minimum of 500 million Yahoo users had personal information stolen, “including user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, security questions and answers, and passwords.” Other sources have suggested that the breach may have impacted closer to 1 billion users.
The immensity of the breach is noteworthy in and of itself, but the detail that left many people reeling in the aftermath is that the breach actually occurred in 2014. It’s not entirely clear when Yahoo! first caught wind of the incident, or how the breach was orchestrated. However, the intrusion was made public on Sept. 22, 2016, by the company’s CISO, Bob Lord.
In the wake of the unprecedented breach, it’s important for organizations to take a step back and assess some of the key lessons to be learned, starting with the following three:
1. Cyberthreats Are Horrible for Business
“The timing of the data breach announcement could not have been worse.”
The timing of the data breach announcement could not have been worse. Yahoo! is currently in the process of negotiating what was supposed to be a $4.8 billion acquisition by Verizon. However, on Oct. 11, the New York Post reported that Verizon is now pushing for a $1 billion discount on the deal, and is using the recent breach as bargaining leverage. Whether or not Yahoo! will acquiesce to those specific terms remains to be seen, but the takeaway here is clear as day: A data breach at the wrong time can have a devastating business impact. The sooner an organization is able to detect a breach, stop data exfiltration and quell the concerns of stakeholders and the public, the less damaging the incident risks becoming.
2. Never Reuse Login Credentials
Even if all Yahoo! users had changed their account passwords directly following the 2014 breach, it’s important to note that many online users recycle login credentials. The hackers responsible stole victims’ email addresses, phone numbers, former passwords and even security questions data, meaning that anyone who accessed the information after it was released on the dark web could scour the internet for other accounts tied to the email address. From there, it’s just a matter of trying their luck with the stolen credentials. The lesson here for all end users (business or personal) is that you should never use the same credentials for multiple accounts. In the event that a personal or work email account is breached, immediately change passwords and security questions for any and all other accounts – even if you know those credentials haven’t been reused.
3. A Breach of One Business Is a Breach of Multiple Businesses
It’s difficult to trace the fallout from a breach as significant as this one, which makes it all the more harrowing. For instance, consider that this breach occurred in 2014. By now, there’s really no telling how much additional information has been stolen using the pilfered account data. The long-term effects of this massive breach may still be unfolding several years from now.
A breached email account can have far-reaching effects on multiple organizations.
If nothing else, businesses of all sizes need to see this as a call to action to improve cybersecurity. A cyberattack of this caliber has significant potential to trickle down to other businesses in unforeseen ways.
Cyberattacks cannot be avoided. However, organizations can be better prepared by protecting their endpoints from malware, spyware, ransomware, virus and rootkits. A robust Reboot-to-Restore solution on all endpoints will ensure clean systems upon every reboot.
To learn more, contact Faronics today.