5 Global Brands Suffered Major Cyber-Attacks Last Year. Here’s How You Can Avoid One.

5 Global Brands Suffered Major Cyber-Attacks Last Year. Here’s How You Can Avoid One.

In Uncategorized by bertie

Cyber-attacks have long been a concern.

When a global pandemic forced most of us to work from home for most of last year, the threat only grew. A report from leading cyber security company firm Kaspersky suggested as many as 1.5 billion hacks could have happened in 2020.

And cybercriminals will only continue to exploit a newly-remote workforce in 2021. So if you believe your business isn’t at risk, you might want to reconsider: even companies you’d think immune from these kinds of events experienced stolen account credentials, personal data, and financial records last year.

No doubt, these five global brands have already reinforced their cyber security services in 2021 — unfortunately, efforts were too late to avoid these five major hacks.

1. The Infamous Twitter Hack

The last four years saw Twitter at center-stage for many high-profile goings-on. But there was one event the company would have preferred to avoid.

On July 15, tweets appeared on the account pages of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, reading: “I’m giving back to the community. All bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled!” It continued, “If you send $1000, I will send back $2000. Only doing this for 30 minutes.” 

The tweet reached more than 350 million people. And in a short time, followers duly ‘donated’ over $121,000, believing the ruse to be real. Twitter quickly removed the posts. Then the company announced a targeted cyber-attack had allowed the tweets. A statement read, “This attack relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems.”

So while it would appear the hack didn’t stem from network insecurity, it seems employees do need advice on how to spot phishing attempts.

2. The Zoom Data Breach

Another company that enjoyed a 2020 bounce was Zoom. Distributed teams used it for video conferencing. Homeschoolers used it for remote learning. But many people didn’t account for the fact that cyber-criminals might use Zoom to launch a cyber-attack. 

Zoom’s rapid rise to become the ‘saving grace of the pandemic’ revealed its vulnerabilities. And security threats ultimately morphed into a data breach. The first week of April 2020 saw reports that over half-a-million Zoom passwords had become available to buy on the dark web, causing mass panic in the corporate world.

Not only were unwelcome faces appearing mid-meeting. But cyber-criminals were using email addresses and personal information to launch a flurry of attempted hacks.

3. Nintendo’s Cyber Security Weak Spot

Many people spent a lot more time online last year; not least, people who like to game. A proliferation of online accounts meant more potential targets. And in April 2020, Nintendo announced over 160,000 accounts had been compromised.

Hackers were using account details to purchase digital items: a revelation that forced Nintendo to stop users from logging in using their Nintendo Network ID… while the company also suggested that users secure their personal data using two-factor authentication.

4. EasyJet’s Data Nosedive

Even as travel took a nosedive in 2020, some airlines were getting airtime they’d have preferred to avoid. A no-frills operator based in the UK was one such company, as it reported the theft of over 9 million customer records and 2,200 credit card details — but ultimately, EasyJet has revealed little about the nature of the hack. 

The company simply suggested the hacker seemed more interested in the airline’s IP than its actual customer records. Even so, plenty of sensitive information still ended up in the wrong place.

5. Testing Marriott Customer Loyalty

Last year started badly for many companies worldwide. But Marriott’s 2020 got off on a worse footing than most.

At the end of March, the company admitted a network security breach had compromised the data of over 5.2 million of its guests. The hack mainly targeted customers who had used Marriott’s loyalty app. But how did it come to pass? It seems criminals managed to steal two employees’ login credentials and then use the account permissions to access the sensitive information.

Long before the leak was detected, data appeared online. Reports suggest that contact numbers, personal details, and linked accounts — like airline loyalty programs — were all part of the stolen records.

How a Cyber Security Company Can Help You Avoid a Hack

Cyber attacks are increasingly commonplace. In truth, they are hard to avoid entirely. But there are several steps every company should take to minimize the risk:

  1. First up, train your staff to recognize the threats. Doing so will help them spot suspicious emails, links, or messages. And your company should avoid a hiccup like the one suffered by Twitter.
  2. Secondly, get employees to use strong, unique passwords for all their accounts. And ask them to enable two-factor authentication. This way, even if a data breach occurs, second-layer protection will help everyone avoid the problems seen at Nintendo.
  3. Finally, ensure your cyber security services are up to scratch. Secure everyone’s WiFi, consider a VPN, avoid public connections, and install the latest antivirus software on every machine.

Step three is the only way to truly protect your company — but if you’re unsure of how to make your cyber-defenses as strong as they need to be, rest assured: you have plenty of IT support on-hand. 

Feel free to give Mid-Coast Tech a call at 207-223-7594. We’d be delighted to share some quick, informal advice.