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Cyber Breaches: Learning from History to Protect Our Future

Author: Puja Ghiya, MBA, CSM

When it comes to cyber risk management, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

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A review of some of the biggest breaches in recent history equips us with more than a few important takeaways. If we can learn from these situations, we can save ourselves a lot of pain in 2024 and beyond.

Equifax Data Breach (2017):

One of the largest data breaches ever happened when hackers exploited a vulnerability in Equifax’s website software. This attack compromised the sensitive personal information of nearly 150 million people. That’s a group roughly half the size of the entire U.S. population! 

Lessons Learned: The Equifax breach highlights the critical importance of regular software patching and robust cybersecurity protocols.

WannaCry Ransomware Attack (2017):

This attack infected hundreds of thousands of computers in over 150 countries. In most cases, the attackers demanded hundreds of dollars in Bitcoin from victims and threatened to delete their files if they didn’t pay up.

Lessons Learned: Well, what do you know? Yet another situation where better patch management would have gone a long way. This attack exploited a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows. Microsoft released a security patch far before the attack, but most victims hadn’t bothered to update their operating systems. Shocking.

Facebook Data Breach (2018):

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook faced scrutiny over the improper harvesting and exploitation of personal data from millions of users for political purposes. 

Lessons Learned: This breach underscores the importance of data privacy and user consent. Implementing robust data protection measures, including encryption and access controls, is essential to safeguarding user privacy and trust.

SolarWinds Supply Chain Attack (2020):

This breach comprised the data, networks, and systems of thousands of public and private organizations, including Microsoft, Intel, and the U.S. Treasury. Their customers’ data, networks, and systems were also exposed in some cases. Even worse, it’s likely that the attackers went undetected for over a year! 

Lessons Learned:  This attack highlights the far-reaching implications of supply chain vulnerabilities. In 2024, it’s not enough to understand your own weaknesses. We must also take real action to understand our exposure to 3rd and 4th party risk. As a result, conducting vendor risk assessments and continuous monitoring is a great way to ensure you’re not the victim of a similar attack!

Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack (2021):

This ransomware attack disrupted critical energy infrastructure in the United States, demonstrating the systemic risks posed by cyber threats to essential services. 

Lessons Learned: This incident underscores the importance of robust incident response plans and cyber resilience strategies.

Cyber Risk Management Solutions:

The cyber breaches referenced above serve as a sobering reminder that we must always keep our guard up. Studying past incidents and getting serious about cyber risk management are two powerful ways to strengthen your resilience.  This certainly isn’t the time to have blind spots in your data and IT infrastructure. Take action today to build a resilient risk management framework that protects your organization from malicious actors.

WolfPAC on desktop

WolfPAC can help! Our IT Risk Management solution provides a dashboard view of your IT infrastructure. This new level of visibility enables you to analyze your entire IT framework to identify, manage, and reduce risk.

Our customers love our IT Risk Management solution because it helps them:

  • Identify risks and opportunities related to information assets and associated security controls.
  • Clarify risks and gaps associated with their key hardware and technologies.
  • Generate audit and board reports with clean and concise data.
  • Assess their readiness for ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity threats.

Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, sophisticated, and challenging to detect. WolfPAC’s comprehensive framework empowers your organization to take proactive steps to defend against these threats. By enabling you to identify, mitigate, and manage the key risks within your IT security infrastructure, we help ensure that you stay ahead of the curve in safeguarding your digital infrastructure.

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