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Cybersecurity News

Houzz Data Breach – What Really Happened?

The Houzz data breach happened in December 2018. The home improvement start-up firm claims it has over 40 million users. Let’s find more about the Houzz data breach in this article. 

Another day, another breach. This may sound old but yes, another data breach occurred. Cyberattacks get even more common each day. It is so common that “if” is no longer the question to ask. It’s a matter of “when”. Every sector experiences it – from government agencies to small businesses with unsecured databases.

In December 2018, another popular company got victimized again – Houzz. The mentioned company serves in the home improvement industry. 

What is Houzz?

This company is a website and an online community. It offers home improvement services to homeowners. Moreover, they cater services to home design aficionados and professionals. One of its tools is the marketplace. The marketplace enables home improvement companies to advertise and sell their products. The company claims it has over 40 million users.

Houzz Data Breach

The company admitted they suffered a data breach. Their announcement stated that unauthorized third-parties accessed files. Those files contain public visible user data. Yet, it is still unclear if hackers accessed the files through a hacked system. Houzz still didn’t say either if a rogue employee started the breach or a database was left unsecured.

Furthermore, the information involved in the breach includes:

  • IP address
  • User logs in Facebook
  • Email addresses
  • User IDs
  • Public information from a Houzz profile (for instance, name and address)
  • City and ZIP code derived from the IP address

Moreover, the company didn’t reveal whether hackers distributed the data or sold on any hacking forums. Fortunately, no payment information or SSNs were involved in the attack. Moreover, the company said that the actual user passwords were not compromised. Instead, hackers had access to scrambled passwords.

Response On Houzz Data Breach

While hackers didn’t have access to actual passwords, the company recommended its users to change their passwords. The company enables users to do this by visiting the “Change Password” page of their website or going to their account settings.

Furthermore, the company sent email notifications to its users about the breach. The home improvement firm promised its users to improve data security. Moreover, they wrote that they started an internal investigation and engaged with law enforcement. Additionally, they retained a leading security forensics firm regarding the matter. 

Yet, it’s not clear if the company will face penalties.

Users affected by the Houzz data breach should immediately change their passwords. Moreover, consider using a password manager in the future.

Precautionary Steps

As we have mentioned earlier, the company experiencing a data breach is inevitable. Here are some suggestions:

  • Beware of phishing scams – this is one of the most common methods hackers use. Hackers use this method hoping to get victims to click on malicious links. 
  • Install strong security software – it is important to protect your gadgets with strong security software. Keep your antivirus updated. This serves as the best defense.
  • Never reuse the same password for multiple online services.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Frequently check your bank accounts for suspicious activity. 
  • Close accounts that you rarely use.
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Cybersecurity

Breaking Down The Wells Fargo Data Breach

A bank access code from Wells Fargo was used to take the personal information of 5,000 consumers. The Wells Fargo data breach caused the bank to conduct a full-scale inquiry. What more do we know?

MicroBilt Notification

The online consumer and commercial credit bureau information provider, Microbilt, notified that there is a Wells Fargo data breach on July 1, 2008.

The report states that someone had used a Wells Fargo access code to collect data on 7,000 customers from its computers. 

Moreover, Microbilt says that they are unable to comment on any details of the case. Hence, the investigation is ongoing.

Mary Berg, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, said that Wells Fargo immediately launched a full-scale investigation. Also, notifies the US Secret Service about data theft.

The data breached was for the time period between May and June 2008.

How The Data Was Taken

Despite the ongoing investigation, Mary notes that the bank’s information security is looking into the loan application area of the bank.

“So far, we do not know how this person or persons gained access to the codes. They may have gotten hold of an employee’s access credentials,” Berg says.

Furthermore, the law enforcement investigation is looking both internally and externally for how the data was taken.

However, Berg didn’t want to comment on why MicroBilt became suspicious about the data accessed.

Bad News

After the breach, MicroBilt sent a list of about 7,000 names that had information taken in the data theft.

But, the list decreased down to 5,00 names, getting rid of duplicate names.

Despite the ongoing law enforcement investigation, Wells Fargo decided to notify all of the affected consumers.

Even though there are only a few of them that are Wells Fargo customers.

Good News

Berg wasn’t able to give exact numbers because of the investigation.

The good thing is each victim will receive one year of identity theft protection service.

Wells Fargo took this step even though many aren’t Wells Fargo customers. Why? Wells Fargo believes that they are responsible to protect them.

“We’re doing what we can to alert them so they can protect their accounts,” Berg says.

Legal Actions

Wells Fargo has got to the decision that the accounts were from a branch of the brokerage. Specifically in the northeastern part of the U.S.

Officials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority reached out to several attorneys from Wells Fargo. Why?

The purpose is to find out how the cybersecurity breach happened and how did Wells Fargo found out about it happening.

The bank’s lawyers are contacting the regulators about the data breach as well, noted the report.

Wells Fargo, on the other hand,  takes the security and privacy of customers’ information very seriously. It was proven by the banking firm in a report.

Moreover, they are now taking legal actions to ensure the additional data is not disseminated.

Also, they are requesting its rapid return.

Lastly, they are continuing to clearly investigate this matter and will take the proper steps.

It means having corrective action, based on the outcome of the investigation.

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Cybersecurity

CafePress Data Breach: Important Things To Put In Mind

CafePress was hacked in February last year. As a result, the CafePress data breach exposed usernames and passwords. Well, there’s more you need to know.

Data breaches happen occasionally. However, if hit, you’ll be in jeopardy and the risk is costly.

In CafePress’s case, a lot of information has been compromised. But, there’s always a flip side, where we can learn from those mistakes.

We will look further at the CafePress data breach. Also, we will add security measures to prevent and monitor your account from hackers.

More From The Breach

The custom merchandise retailer CafePress endangered data that included 23 million unique email addresses.

The data includes some records also containing names, physical addresses, phone numbers, and passwords stored as SHA-1 hashes.

Bad Habit

Well, we have that habit of using the same passwords on multiple accounts. As a result, it’s possible that hackers have had access to other platforms as well. How?

Of course, a simple dictionary scan with common numbers and special characters are likely to give the hacker the password you used.

The Role Of HIBP

HIBP, haveibeenpawned, offers a breach database service. If not for them, many of us wouldn’t hear about the CafePress data breach. 

Truth be told, most people only heard of it when emails from HIBP went out.

The Problem, Once Again

Yes, we are once again confronted not just with a data breach, but the length of time that it took the company to say anything about it.

Moreover, we don’t know whether any security has been updated or changed. Also, we are left hanging if the root cause was identified and addressed.

Why Has It Taken So Long?

According to the Mozilla Firefox Monitor service, “It can sometimes take months or years for credentials exposed in a data breach to appear on the dark web. Breaches get added to our database as soon as they have been discovered and verified.”

As a result, instead of us hearing from CafePress itself, we heard about the breach from HIBP.

Moreover, the majority of data breaches often go unnoticed.

HIBP’s Goal

Troy Hunt, the creator of HIBP, hopes to spread awareness by adding the CafePress data breach to the news.

HIBP hopes that people will take the necessary steps to safeguard their information.

Moreover, the breach occurred in February. But, there can be a long lead time of months or even years before the data is disclosed publicly.

Yes, Have I Been Pwned will always attempt to alert you.

How To Monitor Your Account’s Safety?

Through the HIBP website, monitoring your account is now easy.

Just head over to their website. Then, enter any email addresses you want to check. After that, the database will quickly return information on any breaches that your details were found in.

What Should You Do Now?

Well, we are now on the part where we need to act. Either for companies or users, you need to use reasonable security practices.

These practices include education about multi-factor authentication and using password managers to generate a password per site.

Lastly, upgrading applications and libraries to the latest secure versions.

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Cybersecurity

Town Of Salem Data Breach: The After-effect

BlankMediaGames confirms that more than 7.6 million are impacted by the infamous incident, the Town of Salem data breach. Well, if you’re one of those players or not, you probably want to know the situation at hand. Let’s sneak into things.

Town Of Salem Data Breach Exposed

Dehashed, a hacked-database search engine, reveals that the popular browser-based role-playing game suffered a data breach.

Moreover, it includes evidence of the server compromise and access to the complete player database.

The total row count of that database is 8,388,894 which includes 7.6 million unique email addresses.

More From The DeHashed Disclosure

The compromise data contains email addresses, usernames,  and IP addresses. Furthermore, it also involves game and forum activity and passwords. As well as payment information. 

It also stated that some premium users are having their billing information data breached as well. But, this has been disputed by BlankMediaGames.

What They Have To Say

Achilles, the name they called a spokesperson, confirms the breach in a Town of Salem game forum.

According to him, “We do not handle money… The third-party payment processors are the ones that handle all of that. We never see your credit card, payment information… We don’t have access to that information.”

What You Get From The Statement

However, the statement confirms that only the Username/hashed password, IP, and email are endangered. So, everything else is just game-related data. 

BMG Advisory

Because of this, users are advised to update their Town of Salem passwords to be safe.

The passwords were not stored in plain text but were hashed. It doesn’t mean weaker passwords are safe, as threat actors can use rainbow tables to decipher common hashed passwords.

In addition, more than two million passwords from the jeopardized database have already been decrypted and are accessible online.

However, these publicly searchable passwords do not have any further information such as linked accounts. Thus, the actual value of them for spiteful objectives is negligible.

What Players Had To Say

Of course, it’s hard for the players.

When they heard about the announcement, they questioned why it took so long.

In fact, DeHashed states that it will send numerous emails in an attempt to inform BMG of the breach. Yet, no confirmation is forthcoming.

The BMG Excuse

“Sorry that this happened” Achilles from BMG stated.

They also said that no game creator wants to be in this situation, and “having it happen over the holiday break when everyone was away was terrible timing.”

Moreover, the excuse also includes that the company only has few employees.

Furthermore, BMG said that they filter emails from DeHashed into a spam folder and so did not get seen.

What Now BMG?

Another BMG spokesperson, by the name of PyromonkeyGG, posted that the company has now identified and fixed one breach.

In collaboration with Rackspace, they are working towards identifying any other potential leaks or vulnerabilities on servers.

As a remedy, BMG expects to send a mass email announcement to all Town of Salem users impacted by the breach.

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Cybersecurity

Breaking Down The Epic Games Data Breach

Late in 2018, Epic Games experienced a data breach relating to Fortnite accounts. The Epic Games data breach resulted in user accounts being stolen. What more do we know about the Epic Games Data Breach?

More From The Breach

Aside from user accounts, hackers use linked credit or debit cards for purchases.

Moreover, hackers sold those accounts, loaded up with in-game purchases. Thus, profiting on the dark web and other sites.

How The Data Breach Occurred

Epic Games acknowledges that there are a lot of flaws in Fortnite’s login system. As a result, it allowed hackers to impersonate players.

Also, buy in-game currency using stolen credit cards on the account.

Check Point successfully revealed a security vulnerability on an old webpage operated by Epic Games.

Moreover, Check Point notified Epic Games in November of 2018. But, the acknowledgment came two months later.

On the other hand, Epic Games did not reveal how many accounts were affected. It is estimated that Fortnite has 200 million registered users.

Before the data breach outbreak, the BBC reports that hackers were earning thousands of British pounds. The earning comes from hacking Fortnite accounts, take them over, and resell them online.

Kotaku Report

It reveals that there are other means hackers profits from hacking Fortnite accounts. This is through purchasing upgraded versions of the otherwise free game.

An upgraded version is purchased for $99.99 or $150.00. After that, the hacked account receives codes.

Then, hackers use those codes for free downloads of Fortnite standard edition, which retails for approximately $40.

Hackers would then sell the codes online at a high rate.

Epic Games Response

In reply to the data breach, Epic Games posted an “Account Security Bulletin.”

Under the “What Are We Doing To Help” section, Epic Games provides that they are working hard to retrieve and reset passwords.

Moreover, they believe that actively retrieving accounts prevents a significant amount of fraud. 

Unfortunately, not all accounts will be found eventually through human hands.

As a result, Epic Games is automating the processes to check the account database against password dumps. Thus, closing the space between identifying impacted users and resetting their passwords.

Furthermore, as a means of improvement, Epic Games enables multi-factor authentication. As a result, it provides players with additional security options.

Besides, Fortnite users have no insurance that the security measures will protect their personal information.

However, Fortnite is doing the best they can to ensure that their personal information is protected from cybersecurity threats.

FDAzar Files A Class Action Lawsuit

Attorneys at FDAzar filed a class-action lawsuit against Epic Games On August 8, 2019.

The lawsuit seeks financial relief on behalf of the Epic Games users nationwide.

Furthermore, it is in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Western Division.

Claim Against Epic Games

You may have a claim against Epic Games. Especially when you’re account was hacked. 

Because of that, you can contact FDAzar immediately. They will fight to get you the recovery you deserve.

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Cybersecurity

Breaking Down The Chipotle Data Breach

The Chipotle data breach is a warning that you could be in danger when spending through credit cards at restaurants. What more do we know about the Chipotle data breach?

The Reveal

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the Denver-based Mexican restaurant chain, revealed the security breached on April 25, 2017.

Moreover, it outlines what you can do to protect yourself from fraudulent charges.

On its website, Chipotle said it completed an investigation. The said investigation involves leading cybersecurity firms, law enforcement, and the payment card networks.

To know more, the findings are reported in a post on the company’s website.

Comments

Of course, who wants their personal information to get stolen? No one.

No one wants to lose personal information, but consumers are not alone in this type of breach, according to Kevin Haley.

In addition, despite security breaches on credit cards, they can be easily shut down, one person stated.

Credit card companies have the ability to discover stolen cards and eventually shutting them, one person added.

“But consumers should always be watching their bills for suspicious charges,” Haley said.

If they suspect a problem, then they should call their credit card company right away. The credit card company will know what to do.

By The Numbers

The crime concerned most of its 2,250 Chipotle restaurants nationwide. This includes all seven locations of Pizza Locale, a company affiliate.

How Hackers Move

Hackers utilized malware to access customers’ payment card information at point-of-sale devices.

Furthermore, the thieves stole information contained on the magnetic stripe on the back of the payment cards.

Unfortunately, stolen information includes names, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes.

What Does This Mean For You? 

Well, there may be cases that you’re paying for food on the Chipotle restaurant during the hack. If that’s the case, your payment information could potentially be used to make fraudulent purchases.

Don’t worry! Chipotle has launched a tool to help you find out which of its restaurants had data stolen. Also, the dates when you used the cards and the breach.

The After-effect

A lot of us might be nervous when using cards in restaurants. Especially when purchasing on the Chipotle restaurants, there may be doubts. Should we be worry?

According to Chipotle, you should not.

The company said it removed the malware from its system during its investigation of the breach.

What To Do After A Data Breach?

Few of the restaurant chain’s suggestions are as follows:

  • Review your payment card statements to make sure there are no suspicious transactions.
  • Review your free credit reports for any unauthorized activity. To order your annual free credit report, you can visit  http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Or, you can call toll-free at 1-877-322-8228.
  • Then, you can also contact the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General’s office in your state. That is if you think you are the victim of identity theft or have considerable reasons that your personal information has been misused.

As a result, you can obtain information about steps you can take to avoid identity theft.

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Cybersecurity

What is Data Breach and How Does it Happen?

What is data breach? How does this affect businesses in today’s technology-heavy world?

A data breach is not only a temporary terror for many companies. This event can change the course in how they do their business.

But businesses are not the only ones affected by this. It could be governments and individuals.

So, let us take a look at what is data breach and see how it happens.

What is Data Breach?

A data breach is where vital and confidential information is leaked. And these files are shared and viewed by an unauthorized person.

Then, the hackers that get these data can get by whether one is online or offline. They can also get it via Bluetooth, text messages, the internet, or online services.

So, a data breach can happen for two main weaknesses. Weakness in technology and user behavior.

And this event has a higher chance of happening today as more and more technologies are rising. With the rise of IoT and “smart home”, it is clear that people now value convenience more than security.

This is due to people using these new digital products and services. All with very little security testing.

Also, even in this world that relies on technology, there are still those who have poor digital habits. And it only takes one hacker to get their valuable data.

So, how does a data breach happen?

How Does Data Breach Happen?

A data breach does not always happen due to outside hackers. There are many ways this can happen to someone or an organization. This is how:

  • Accidental Insider. This is where someone without authorization viewed sensitive data by accident. But did not share it. It was not their intention to view these data but because he’s unauthorized to do so, the data is now breached.
  • Malicious Insider. This is where a person got access and shared vital data and did it on purpose. And the intent is to harm the victim. This person may have the authority to use the data but he uses it in the wrong way.
  • Lost or Stolen Devices. Any device, may it be a laptop or mobile device, got lost or stolen without the proper protection. It may be unencrypted or unlocked and data is at risk.
  • Malicious Outside Criminals. These are the outside hackers that attack victims to get their valuable data. Then use this with harmful intent.

So, what are the ways these malicious criminals use to do a data breach? Here are some ways:

  • Phishing. This is a social engineering attack. They design this to fool users and cause a data breach. So, it acts as people and organizations users trust and asks them for their valuable data.
  • Brute Force Attacks. Hackers may force their way into a user’s data. Like guessing their passwords or putting software to guess passwords.
  • Malware. This is where hackers look for any security flaws. May it be in a user’s operating system, software, hardware, network, or servers. Then they attack the flaw by using malware or spyware.
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Cybersecurity

Wawa Data Breach: How To Be A Beneficiary Of The Tragedy?

Back in December 2019, Wawa experienced a data security incident. The Wawa data breach resulted in the theft of 31 million payment card records. That’s absurd, isn’t it?

Of course, in cases like these, it’s really painful news and scary. But somehow you can make this tragedy they called the Wawa data breach into a warning sign.

First, let’s look at the details of the infamous incident.

One Of The Largest Data Breach

It is one of the largest data breaches of all time. It is on the level of those in the Home Depot breach. The said breach compromised 50 million customers’ data. 

Also, a little bit smaller than Target’s 2013 breach. Which exposed 40 million sets of their customers’ payment data.

The Customer Side

Of course, those who are affected are frustrated. Despite Wawa’s apologies, over a dozen lawsuits have been filed arising from the breach.

These lawsuits claim that Wawa failed to use reasonable measures to secure its computer systems. Also, the company failed to detect the malware on its servers on time.

Moreover, the measures that Wawa has voluntarily offered to its customers isn’t enough.

As a result, customers seek compensation for any damages. Also, to punish Wawa for its alleged knowing failure to maintain up-to-date security.

The Frustrating Part

Well, it could have been prevented. If not, even just to mitigate the damage from e-skimming malware installed on its card readers. By using EMV card readers at their pumps and using POS terminals.

As a result, cards are now being sold in the dark web marketplace, Joker’s Stash.

Avoid Complacency

Companies often fall into a trap of convincing themselves that their existing cybersecurity or fraud prevention postures are adequate.

They are stuck on the “burn and learn” mentality. The mentality that they’re not experiencing catastrophic breaches or significant monetary losses for so long.

Wherein fact, they may still be experiencing smaller-scale fraud and cybercrime. But, they felt secure because the “big one” has yet to come.

Thus, lulling them into a false sense of security.

This complacency, which the Wawa breach presents, is an issue facing businesses today.

With regards to compliance, it is not enough when it’s the “good enough” mentality.

What To Do

In the case of gas stations, EMV card readers are a proven and viable method of reducing POS fraud.  This works by transforming static credit card numbers into individual, encrypted numbers specific to the transaction.

While this transition to EMV comes at a substantial cost, there is a greater risk when it’s not implemented. Delaying the upgrade might form data breaches.

Moreover, criminals will subsequently abuse stolen credit cards.

Conclusion

Switching over to EMV card readers is just one thing that we learned from the Wawa data breach.

Not just that, it encourages us to introduce new authentication protocols or encrypting user account data.

Moreover, businesses should consider security upgrades, not a burden. Yet, an essential operational, and competitive advantage. 

Thus, helps prevent breaches. Also, relieving customers of having to take security into their own hands.

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Cybersecurity Cybersecurity Tools

What Is A Data Breach And Its Phases? -Ways To Avoid

According to a study, the average total cost to a company of a data breach is $3.86 million globally. So, what is a data breach? And how can you protect personal information in the event of a data breach?

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach is an incident where personal information is stolen or accessed without permission. It can also hurt businesses, consumers, and companies. That is because a data breach is a costly expense that can damage lives. As well as reputations. Besides, it takes time to repair.

Why Does Data Breach Occur?

There are several reasons why data breaches occur. They can be targeted attacks or accidentally. Consider the following reasons.

System vulnerabilities exploitation

Softwares that are out of date can create a hole. And that may allow attackers to sneak malware onto the computer. Then it will steal all the sensitive and confidential data.

The Use Of Weak Passwords

Hackers can guess easily weak and insecure passwords. Most especially if the passwords are consist of whole words or phrases. So experts always advise using a unique and complex password.

Breaches Through Drive-By Downloads

Remember also that you may unintentionally download a virus or malware. And that is by visiting a compromised web page.

Moreover, a drive-by download takes advantage of browsers and applications. As well as operating systems that are out of date and have security flaws.

Targeted Malware Attacks

Cyberattackers may use spam and phishing email tactics. By using these methods, they try to trick the users into revealing their user credentials. Or even make them download malware attachments or direct users to vulnerable websites.

Moreover, email is a common way for malware to end up on your computer. So try to avoid opening links or attachments from an email with an unfamiliar source. Especially emails can be made to look like it comes from a trusted source even if it’s not.

The Phases Of Data Breach

Research

After picking the potential target, the attacker looks for weaknesses to exploit. For instance, they will study if they can exploit using the network, systems, or even the employees.

This could mean long hours of research on the attacker’s part. And that may involve stalking employees’ social media profiles to get to know more about the company.

The Attack

The attacker may do a network-based attack or a social attack.

Network-based attack means the attacker exploits weaknesses in the target’s infrastructure to instigate a breach.

Social attack means the attacker may use social engineering tactics to infiltrate the target network. Such tactics include malicious emails sent to employees.

Exfiltration phase

The attacker is now free to extract data from the company’s network once he gets inside. And that data can be used either for blackmail purposes of cyber propaganda.

How Can You Protect Your Personal And Sensitive Information?

  • Use strong and secure passwords.
  • Monitor also your bank and other financial accounts.
  • Check your credit report.
  • Take action as soon as possible.
  • Secure your phone.
  • Also, use only secure URLs.
  • Implement high-quality security software.
  • Back up your files and ensure their safety.
  • Wipe your hard drive.
  • Avoid oversharing on social media, and
  • Use an identity theft protection or credit monitoring service.