eBay was under attack -- now it is under investigation. After admitting to a data
breach earlier this week, the online auction giant is now under investigation by multiple government agencies.
On Tuesday, eBay asked users to change their passwords in the wake of a cyberattack that compromised one of its databases. Unfortunately, it was a database that included eBay customers' names, encrypted passwords, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.
At the root of the matter is employee log-in credentials, a small number of which eBay said cyberattackers breached to gain stealth access to its corporate network. Although eBay said there’s no evidence of unauthorized activity on user accounts or credit card information -- which they stressed was stored separately in encrypted formats -- government authorities are launching investigations of their own.
Governments Get Involved
According to Reuters, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut are leading a probe into the massive data breach and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking for free credit monitoring for everyone affected. eBay could not immediately be reached for comment.
“The magnitude of the reported eBay data breach could be of historic proportions, and my office is part of a group of other attorneys general in the country investigating the matter,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We must do everything in our power to protect consumers’ personal information, which is exactly why I worked with the Florida Legislature on the Florida Information Protection Act.”
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom watchdogs also expressing concern. BBC News is reporting that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is getting involved.
"There's millions of U.K. citizens affected by this, and we've been clear that we're monitoring it, but by taking the wrong action under the law now we risk invalidating any investigation," Christopher Graham, an ICO spokesman, told the BBC.
A Tipping Point of Awareness?
We asked Tom Smith, a vice president of Business Development & Strategy at CloudEntr, a division of the French identity management firm Gemalto, for more thoughts on the eBay breach. He told us it’s yet another example of the fact that hackers can and will leverage any avenue to gain access to a company and their customers' data for financial gain.
“Employee login credentials would appear to be an obvious access point that companies would put an extremely heavy emphasis on protecting, yet in fact, the opposite is true,” he said. “Many companies, such as eBay, provide high levels of security for customer access to their service but do little to secure employee access to the customer records they may have on file.”
From his view, both Fortune 1000 companies and small businesses need to take proactive action to limit access to sensitive corporate data and intellectual property that could bring an organization down with one breach.
“There is no point in having multiple locks on a door when you leave the window wide open for hackers,” he said. “ Hopefully the eBay breach will be a tipping point in awareness of the need for a best practice, dedicated security strategy that includes employees in the equation."