The recent Equifax breach is one of the largest and most stunning breaches we’ve seen.
Although cybersecurity is a complex and completely unpredictable topic, we thought we should weigh in on the basic facts and provide our readers a curated list of interesting, informed further research.
First, some facts.
According to the FTC, the “The breach lasted from mid-May through July.” That’s an alarmingly long time-span for the barn doors to be left open, so to speak.
They continue by telling us that the “…hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.”
So how did this happen? While the details of exactly how the breach occurred remain uncertain (or unverified), we can say with confidence that a few things are usually at play in any large breach.
In a recent Verizon Breach Report, we learned that:
- The overwhelming majority of breaches are preventable (i.e. basic hygiene and controls not in place).
- The majority of breaches are the result of privileged accounts being compromised.
- The majority of the breaches are uncovered several months after the actual breach. This is often because of the nature of privileged accounts being anonymous and shared…and very powerful.
So: good news/bad news, overall.
Bad news in that many of our enterprises might be unknowingly at risk. The good news is that with the proper precautions taken, it’s easier than you think to reduce your risk.
We interviewed our CISO, Paresh Patel, and he offered the following suggestions to help you better protect your business:
1. Strengthen your human firewall.
Your users are often the weakest link in your organization. Focus on locking their identities down and on security-awareness training programs.
2. Find your own security gaps.
A complete security strategy is a combination of people, processes, and technology orchestrated to protect your business and, in many cases, meet government-dictated policy standards.
3. Improve and harden your organization’s security program.
No matter what size your organization is, it’s important to regularly check and patch your applications, networks, and systems for vulnerabilities that can allow outsiders to have access to data.
4. Continuously monitor your security infrastructure.
The quicker you can identify any suspicious activity, the better you can prevent or minimize any intended damage.
Here are a few more resources to help you find your potential gaps:
- PIM, PAM or Perish. A podcast about how crucial privileged account management is to your cybersecurity efforts.
- The Top 5 Mistakes That Threaten Your Security
- Think Twice, Insiders: 5 Ways Access Governance Is a Menace to Insider Threats
- Follow The Puck: The Future of Cybersecurity Challenges
And if you want to read more about the Equifax breach, we’ve pulled together a list of recommended reading:
- FTC article on what to consumers should do next.
- New York Times article “After Equifax Breach, Here’s Your Next Worry: Weak PINs“
- Forbes article about Equifax and why “The CMO must be the best friend of the chief information security officer of the company. “
We hope you find this post helpful. More importantly, we hope you continue to educate and protect yourself.
With almost 20 years of writing and editing under her belt – including CNN and HomeDepot.com content – Jayne is currently immersed in cybersecurity, #AI and infosec trends. She’s is the Editor in Chief of this blog and the Director of Content and Social for Simeio Solutions.