Compared with the 277 million records breached in January 2023, February’s 29.5 million records seems insignificant in comparison. It isn’t though. 29.5 million records is still a huge number, and it’s disappointing to see. Of these 29.5 million records, just over 20 million come from a breach at PeopleConnect, a business that conducts background checks, and which reported a breach in February.

Here’s the other top stories you need to read:

Twitter is ending SMS Authentication unless you pay

As part of the changes being rolled out under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter launched “Twitter Blue”, their paid-for social profile initiative that entitles members to a range of benefits. One of those is continued use of 2-Factor authentication via SMS text message, while the service will be stripped from those that opt not to pay. Multi-factor authentication is vital to prevent a breach, which means users that don’t want to pay for Twitter Blue, will need to consider alternative methods for authenticating and keeping accounts secure. Here’s a good blog explaining the alternatives +

Phishing is highlighted as an ongoing risk

There were two major phishing issues highlighted during February:

  • The first is that the advent of publicly available AI means it can be utilised to generate text for emails used during phishing attacks, and the bad news is it is getting more sophisticated. While it doesn’t change a business’s response to potential fishing, (i.e. cyber training, zero trust protocols etc.), it does mean that phishing attacks can be developed and distributed more quickly, therefore prompting a likely increase in attacks.
  • A second warning was issued following an increase in targeted spear fishing attacks from Russia. Threat actors have created fake personas, supported by social media accounts, fake profiles and academic papers, to lure targets into replying to sophisticated phishing emails. This is part of escalated efforts to destablise British businesses, as an extension of the Ukraine conflict.

AI platform launches prompt wave of malicious links

Following the much-reported launch of ChatGPT AI Platform (with significant investment from Microsoft) and Bard (Google’s platform), the trend of AI has prompted a wave of malicious links. Fake ChatGPT links and apps have been launched to capture unsuspecting users, before ultimately spreading malware. It serves as a reminder to check what you click!

Latest ransomware is asking for your insurance details

The latest release of the HardBit ransomware is asking victims for their cyber insurance policy details, to enable it to demand the exact cover of the policy, to help ensure that extortion demands are met. As insurers and advisors discourage the paying of ransomware (calculating that the cost of paying is often higher than the overall cost of not), this new development could potentially increase the likelihood that the ransom is paid. Victims are prompted to anonymously share the details.

Kia & Hyundai issue security patches

A TikTok challenge gone wrong led to more than 14 car crashes and eight fatalities, after a software vulnerability in Kia and Hyundai cars was exploited. The “Kia Challenge” trend, which went viral last year, showed how to bypass the security system with the help of simple tools like a screwdriver. The resulting grant theft auto had dire consequences, seeing Kia and Hyundai release free software updates to all owners, to help eliminate the vulnerability.

Microsoft issues server reminder

Microsoft has issued a pressing reminder to ensure on-premise Microsoft Exchange Servers are up to date, as attack exploits continue to target known vulnerabilities. You can read the warning here +

Microsoft Patch Tuesday highlight persisting vulnerabilities

On “Patch Tuesday”, Microsoft releases important security updates to their software. What the latest releases show is that despite updates being distributed, many are not being installed, leaving systems vulnerable to known exploits. These updates address known faults and vulnerabilities that are actively exploited by hackers. Failing to update them is the same as leaving the key in your front door to invite thieves in. Read the analysis here +

TikTok under investigation by Canadian privacy authorities

Canadian privacy protection regulators have begun an investigation into TikTok over the way it collects user data. There are concerns that the app, which is owner by a China-based company, is handing data over to Chinese authorities. The investigation follows hot on the heels of UK government accounts being switched off, and European Commission staff being asked to remove the app.

Royal Mail Data reportedly published

In the wake of the attack that left Royal Mail deliveries disrupted, and that forced the company to suspend its overseas courier service, data that was stolen has now reportedly been published. The Russian group responsible for the attack claim that the data was published after a “breakdown in communication” when Royal Mail refused to pay the fine.

National Cyber Security Centre Threat Reports

Every fortnight, the National Cyber Security Centre releases a threat report update. The report on 10 February focused on sanctions against Russian cyber criminals. The report on 24 February includes Microsoft Edge app disabled and escalation in ransomware.

Surveillance Commissioner’s Report highlights international risk

A warning has been issued in the surveillance commissioner’s report after Chinese CCTV cameras banned from government property. The warning, which highlights a vulnerability in British policing through the use of Chinese tech, serves as an important reminder to businesses to consider how and where they source their tech. Read the article +

Rules not keeping up with tech

Monitoring of high-tech surveillance systems is not keeping up with technology, as oversight lacks capability to handle the explosion of tech. That’s according to Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Professor Fraser Sampson, who warned that the “simplified” oversight framework recommended by the Home Office, lacks the ability to deal with the breadth of new devices including dashcams, drones and body-worn video. Read the BBC article +

Australia to launch new cyber security agency

Following several major breaches to Australian companies, including health insurer Medibank and telecoms firm Optus, the Australian government has announced that it will be reforming its cyber security rules and launching a dedicated agency.