When the Hacker wins

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Thousands of businesses suffer cyber-attacks every week.   Fortunately, most are blocked, but just a small chink in your armour can lead to disastrous consequences as these two sorry tales portray. 

CASE HISTORY – Customer Exposure

Last year, an online retailer struggled for two weeks to find the source of a cyber-security breach after being alerted to a possible leak of credit card details by its card processing Company.   During that time, the firm apparently continued exposing the debit and credit card data of people who shopped on its website.  

The Company stated that data for approximately 24,000 credit and debit cards used by Customers may have been exposed although cardholder’s names, addresses and identifying information had been kept secure.  

A detailed timeline of events shows the firm first learned of a possible intrusion on 14 March.  That’s when the card processor alerted the Company about fraud on a handful of cards that had been recently used.  The retailer launched an internal investigation and was able to rule out insider theft as the potential cause.  

On 19 March, the Company hired a security firm to investigate further amid reports of more fraud.  However, even then it was not able to isolate and shut down the breach until 28 March.  It took a further 36 hours to contain the breach and strengthen security to prevent a re-occurrence.  

CASE HISTORY – Small business loses important Contract

A rival organisation with hostile intentions collected key information about a manufacturing Company over a period of time and used it against them.  The attackers used social media sites to identify key employees and to get information about locations, contact details and current work projects.  

Armed with this information the adversary sent targeted and realistic spear phishing emails to a number of staff in different teams, containing attachments infected with malware.  A work laptop was also stolen from a director on a business trip.  

The attacker used the malware capability together with the stolen laptop to get into the network and extract vital information about the Company and its contract bid.  They used this to produce a rival bid at a lower cost, using stolen intellectual property.  

As a result, the Company lost out on the sizeable contract.   Without this work, it was impossible to maintain the full workforce and half of the employees were made redundant.  This news was picked up in the press, leading to lasting reputational damage and further loss of business.  

What steps could have prevented this attack?  

Planning: consideration of the information assets the business held would have led to information about the contract bid being better protected.  

Implementation: training staff on the safe use of social media could have prevented so much sensitive Company data being gathered from open sources.  Tighter procedures on encrypting data on mobile devices could have also prevented unauthorised User access.  


For help in reviewing your potential level of risk from cyber-attacks, contact us today


www.amshire.co.uk     Tel:  0330 2020 340      Email:   solutions@amshire.co.uk                 Twitter: @Amshire

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