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Network Security

Massive Hack on Vodafone Germany Affects 2 Million Users

Massive Hack on Vodafone Germany Affects 2 Million Users
September 12, 2013 1:36PM

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Vodafone should use this hack as an opportunity to revisit its data residency strategy, and determine if now is the time to transition its data strategy away from the technology model of 20-plus years ago. Cloud-based data storage can make this kind of data breach a thing of the past, said Kevin O'Brien, an enterprise solution architect at CloudLock.

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The personal details of about 2 million Vodafone Germany customers have been exposed in a hack that's making international headlines. According to the company, hackers tapped into an information pool of addresses, bank account numbers and dates of birth.

"Vodafone Germany has world-class security systems that are constantly updated and upgraded to block new emerging threats. However, this attack was highly complex and conducted with inside knowledge of our most secure internal systems," the company said in a statement.

"As soon as we discovered the incident we took all necessary steps to stop the attack, minimize any adverse impact for our customers and notify all relevant German authorities," company officials said. "We are sending our sincere apologies to everyone affected for any disruption caused."

We're All in Danger

We caught up with Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos, to get his analysis on the latest breach. He told us whenever personally identifiable information is purloined by online criminals, it increases the risk to the victims, despite what the vendor might claim.

"This advice doesn't just apply to the two million who we know had their information stolen. It applies to everyone, all the time. Many criminals might try to use this information offline as well as online, so be cautious of any suspicious activity, like incoming phone calls claiming to be your bank," he added.

On-Premise Security Fails

We also asked Kevin O'Brien, an enterprise solution architect at CloudLock, for reaction to the Vodafone hack. He told us it reveals as yet another example of how and why on-premise data security models have failed to keep up with an increasingly interconnected world: Servers that contain critical data, such as personally identifiable information that was stolen in the Vodafone hack, should not be accessible on the public Internet.

"The problem is that organizations cannot keep up with the ever-changing set of vulnerabilities, patches, and zero-day exploits that leave this kind of information at risk," O'Brien said. "While we don't yet know the details of how this particular server was compromised, it is fair to guess that a known issue was used to gain access -- an outdated version of either the OS or some piece of software running on the system, through which the attacker was able to gain adequate permissions to read and ultimately get away with high-value information." (continued...)

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Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Charles:

Posted: 2013-09-17 @ 5:36am PT
Disappointing that you didn't do any fact checking on this article and allowed a vendor to take control of the article. Now the article is an advertisement for cloud storage - but that wasn't the issue on this compromise. It was an outsourced admin who did the damage. He would have had access to cloud storage too. Privileged users simply shouldn't have access to data. They don't need it to do their jobs. Even more so in the cloud. Cloud is great and has its place - just not relevant to this story.



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