Farewell, 2023: 7 lessons we can learn from this year’s data breaches

Farewell, 2023: 7 lessons we can learn from this year’s data breaches

2023 witnessed significant breaches, underscoring businesses’ need for stronger security measures and proactive approaches to cybersecurity. What’s more, 2023 made it clear that even past data breaches have repercussions that reverberate years after the hacking.

It’s evident that safeguarding data remains crucial in the face of evolving cyberthreats. To mark the end of the year, here are seven lessons we have learned regarding data breaches.

1. The top should take the lead in cybersecurity

In 2019, a Russian-backed hacking group targeted IT firm SolarWinds, resulting in one of the most catastrophic cyber espionage incidents in US history. It took months before investigators unearthed the extent of the hacking, posing a grave risk to the federal government.

Four years later, in October 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against SolarWinds and its chief information security officer. According to the lawsuit, the IT firm committed fraud by overstating its cybersecurity practices while understating its vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity is becoming a top concern for CEOs and other executives as reports on high-profile breaches increase. Key decision-makers need to actively participate in cybersecurity. As with all other tech initiatives, gaining support from top-level executives is essential to demonstrate the organization's commitment to safeguarding data.

2. The software supply chain presents a major risk

MOVEit, a government-approved file-transfer service that meets strict compliance standards, suffered a breach in May 2023. Exploiting a flaw in MOVEit Transfer, the cybercriminal group Clop gained access to its database. This incident affected major financial, legal, insurance, healthcare, education, and government institutions globally, impacting over 600 companies and agencies, and exposing data from at least 40 million individuals across multiple countries. Since the breach, Clop has been publishing the list of victims on the dark web.

This incident teaches us that while the software supply chain is a vital component of modern technology, its interconnected nature renders it susceptible to exploitation. Malicious actors can infiltrate the software supply chain at various stages, injecting malware, backdoors, or vulnerabilities into the code. Vigilance, collaboration, and proactive security measures are needed to fortify this chain against cyberthreats.

3. Companies cannot assume third parties will defend and protect shared data

In June, hackers broke into a database of Pilot Credentials, a Texas-based recruitment service used by both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. The attackers did not compromise the airlines’ internal systems and networks, but they were able to steal the personal information of more than 8,000 applicants.

This shows that while collaboration with external partners and vendors is essential for business growth, companies must not assume their third-party partners have robust security. Businesses should adopt a proactive stance, actively verifying and ensuring the security protocols of their partners and demanding transparency.

4. Personal information is still a top priority for data thieves

The ransomware group Money Message successfully encrypted the systems of PharMerica and its parent company, BrightSpring Health Service, in March 2023, accessing over 4.7 TB of data. This included internal business documents like balance sheets, along with sensitive information of over 6 million patients, such as names, contact details, Social Security numbers, prescription data, and health insurance information. The attackers claimed responsibility for the breach and proceeded to publish the stolen data on their website.

Make no mistake: in 2023, data thieves still prioritize stealing valuable personal information like birth dates and bank account details for their marketability and high value.

5. Train your workforce

Making mistakes is human and can be inevitable, but when it comes to cybersecurity, it’s crucial to minimize or even eliminate human error. Phishing and other social engineering schemes are becoming more common and sophisticated, so businesses like yours should enhance your staff’s cybersecurity awareness, address bad tech habits, secure all remote work, and foster a culture of digital hygiene.

6. Manage your IoT devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) market has seen explosive growth over the past few years. However, managing the security of the multitude of IoT devices within a work environment can pose a significant challenge. Securing these devices individually becomes a complex task due to their sheer number and diverse functionalities. This is where implementing a robust cloud security program becomes indispensable as a key tool to safeguard your data. By centralizing security measures through the cloud, businesses can establish a comprehensive and cohesive strategy to protect their interconnected devices, ensuring data integrity and mitigating cyberthreats.

7. Partner with a cybersecurity expert

2023 data breaches highlight the rapid changes in the cyberthreat landscape, and to match its pace, businesses must approach cybersecurity not as a one-time setup but an ongoing and evolving process. Continuous monitoring, facilitated through a disaster recovery and business continuity solution, is vital in making sure that all cybersecurity safeguards are still effective against evolving threats.

At XBASE Technologies, we empower your business with continuous monitoring solutions, as well as various cybersecurity offerings designed to protect your data. We also provide tailored, 24/7 IT support, ensuring that your systems are always protected any time of day.

Let our skilled specialists at XBASE take care of your tech so you can focus on running your business. Interested? Touch base with us through email, phone, or drop by our Toronto office.