The 2015 Anthem data breach affected 79 million people and was the largest health-care data breach in U.S. history. The affected consumers sued Anthem in a case that settled for a record $115 million. Now the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights has reached a settlement with Anthem for a record $16 million — an amount that is almost three times the next-largest OCR data breach settlement of $5.55 million.
While these numbers are interesting, what is the takeaway for business leaders?
It all started with an employee opening and responding to a phishing email:
Anthem discovered cyber-attackers had infiltrated their system through spear phishing emails sent to an Anthem subsidiary after at least one employee responded to the malicious email and opened the door to further attacks. (HHS Press Release)
President Trump and Kanye West put a big ‘ole Texas-sized exclamation point on the [need for?] #CyberAware campaign with Kanye’s password demonstration while on national tv in the Oval Office.
Politicos will spin this a million ways. Security folks will go back and forth between laughing and crying — and maybe do both at the same time. But, the important thing is that we learn from this and use it as an example to help educate others. I thought there was no better way to do that than by putting “Trump”, “Kanye West”, “Password”, “Cybersecurity”, and “#CyberAware” in the title — how’s that for getting a wide range of attention? 🙂
All joking aside, what are the most important lessons you take away from this example and can you use this lightning rod example to help educate your team, family, and friends about good cyber hygiene?
Cybercriminals are using yet another new twist on the old email phishing attack: they email people claiming to have infected porn sites with malware that allowed them to take over the recipient’s webcam and record them sitting at their computer watching porn and if they don’t pay up, the video is going public. I discuss this new method of attack in the video above and you can learn more details about how they do it in this article: Don’t Fall for This Scam Claiming You Were Recorded Watching Porn
For people who know they have never watched porn on their computers, this probably isn’t too effective. For everyone else, this threat of public shaming can be a powerful motivation to comply with the extortion demand.
This is another example of what I have often described as shame hacking, the use, or threatened use, of purportedly hacked data for embarrassing or extorting people by threatening to expose such compromising data if they do not comply with the demands made of them.
There is more and more talk about companies hacking back against those who attack them in cyber space and whether allowing them to take such measures is a good idea. Right now, hacking back, or active defense, as it is often called, is illegal under the federal unauthorized access law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. There are current federal efforts to change this, along with some woefully misguided rumblings by some state legislators (who do not seem to understand that the CFAA supersedes anything they pass to the contrary).