Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Seattle Tech Worker Arrested for Data Theft Involving Large Financial Services Company

Used Knowledge of Servers and Cloud Storage to Steal Data from Millions of Credit Applications

          A former Seattle technology company software engineer was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging computer fraud and abuse for an intrusion on the stored data of Capital One Financial Corporation, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  PAIGE A. THOMPSON a/k/a erratic, 33, made her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle today and was ordered detained pending a hearing on August 1, 2019.

            According to the criminal complaint, THOMPSON posted on the information sharing site GitHub about her theft of information from the servers storing Capital One data. The intrusion occurred through a misconfigured web application firewall that enabled access to the data.  On July 17, 2019, a GitHub user who saw the post alerted Capital One to the possibility it had suffered a data theft.  After determining on July 19, 2019, that there had been an intrusion into its data, Capital One contacted the FBI.  Cyber investigators were able to identify THOMPSON as the person who was posting about the data theft.  This morning agents executed a search warrant at THOMPSON’s residence and seized electronic storage devices containing a copy of the data.

            “Capital One quickly alerted law enforcement to the data theft -- allowing the FBI to trace the intrusion,” said U.S. Attorney Moran.  “I commend our law enforcement partners who are doing all they can to determine the status of the data and secure it.”

            Computer fraud and abuse is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

            The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Masada and Andrew Friedman.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Steps to Safeguard Against Ransomware Attacks

Original release date: July 30, 2019
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), National Governors Association (NGA), and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) have released a Joint Ransomware Statement with recommendations for state and local governments to build resilience against ransomware:
  1. Back up systems—now (and daily). Immediately and regularly back up all critical agency and system configuration information on a separate device and store the backups offline, verifying their integrity and restoration process. If recovering after an attack, restore a stronger system than the one lost, fully patched and updated to the latest version.
  2. Reinforce basic cybersecurity awareness and education. Ransomware attacks often require the human element to succeed. Refresh employee training on recognizing cyber threats, phishing, and suspicious links—the most common vectors for ransomware attacks. Remind employees of how to report incidents to appropriate IT staff in a timely manner, which should include out-of-band communication paths.
  3. Revisit and refine cyber incident response plans. Have a clear plan to address attacks when they occur, including when internal capabilities are overwhelmed. Make sure response plans include how to request assistance from external cyber first responders, such as state agencies, CISA, and MS-ISAC, in the event of an attack.
CISA encourages organizations to review the Joint Ransomware Statement and the following ransomware guidance:

Jackson Woman Pleads Guilty to Intentionally Damaging State Agency’s Protected Computers

Jackson, Miss. – Tara Steverson, 39, of Jackson, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to intentionally damaging protected computers, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

Steverson was terminated from her position at the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) on July 31, 2017.  On August 1, 2017, the day after her termination, Steverson unlawfully accessed one of the systems utilized by MDHS and intentionally changed several files, resulting in other users being unable to perform their usual and customary workflow functions.  The affected system was used to retain records and plans of home care and generically supports the tracking of home and community based services such as in-home services, meal delivery, and caregiver support.  Steverson did over $5,000 in damage before losing access to the system.

Steverson will be sentenced by Judge Wingate on October 28, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. She faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew W. Eichner.