The MOVEit Data Breach and The Ripple Effects One Breach Can Have

With so much in the world happening within the digital sphere, it is of utmost importance that companies and individuals both take heed of cyber security. Being cyber aware and putting time and effort into fortifying your assets can ensure that your data and systems are protected as thoroughly as possible in case of a cyber breach event. The more preemptive measures are taken, the less damage you will incur in the unfortunate event that an issue does arise. Taking precautions is especially important considering that within the field of cybersecurity, one action can have a very wide ripple effect, with one seemingly small thing affecting sectors and operations that may not originally cross the mind.

One of the most prominent security data breaches of 2023 has been the MOVEit Breach. This article will explore how a breach of one company was able to have such wide reaching effects and cause disruption among many different companies in various fields.

MOVEit

MOVEit was the target of a security breach in 2023, but in order to understand the breach, we must first understand the company as a whole.

MOVEit is a company that has been in business since 1979 and they are a file transport software whose services range from basic transportation to complete inventory, distribution and reverse logistics programs. MOVEit is an international company taking on all kinds of projects, ranging from simple transports to whole company endeavors. The range of services and wide range of global areas that they are equipped to service makes their customer base huge and varied over multiple countries and fields as well. Additionally, being in business for years has given the company ample time to build out their customer base.

The amount of data this company handles on a daily basis as well as their international customer basen make it a prime target for a cyber attack.

The Breach

The start of this breach started in May of 2023, when Clop, a ransomware gang, began to exploit a zero-day vulnerability. In cases of zero-day vulnerabilities, the malicious party takes advantage of a vulnerability that was previously unknown to the victim. As soon as MOVEit became aware of the vulnerability, they patched it, but damage had already been done. Clop, being a ransomware gang, had already gained access to certain data within the MOVEit systems and then encrypted it so that MOVEit would lose access to any encrypted data. In these types of breaches, the perpetrator uses the locked information to incite a ransom and pressure victims into paying said ransom with the threat of sensitive data being leaked if the ransomware gang’s demands are not met.

Instances such as these are damaging because not only does a malicious group have access to sensitive data, but the access to this data by its rightful owners is taken away until the issue is resolved. Not having access to specific information can affect every sector in terms of setbacks ranging from mildly inconvenient to life threatening. These time sensitive issues can include deals going through and being closed, classes scheduled, medication or medical procedures scheduled, and more.

In this article we will focus on how one breach can have a huge ripple effect, specifically focusing on the four main sectors of education, healthcare, finances, and government.

Education

One sector that was affected was education. Even though we only know the released names of the affected institutions, and not the extent of the information taken, it is important to reflect upon the ways that a breach could have an effect on an educational institution overall. Keeping data private in education is important in more ways than one may originally think and below we will list some of the ways a cyber attack can affect a school or other place of education.

When thinking about schools, the first kind of data that comes to mind is student names, addresses, and maybe even after school activities or class schedules. While students would not want this information to be available to the general public, the amount of information that schools have can go far beyond this basic data, especially when it comes to private or higher education, which can require tuition. In these cases, the educational institution will almost always have a method of payment or bank information on file. Therefore, if a data leak were to occur there would be financial information on the line as well.

In regards to universities, many of them act not only as a school where students can take classes and learn further education in their chosen fields, but also as a research hub. There are many universities where the professors main objective is to further their research in addition to being able to teach a class. This research is often paramount to the university as they have invested time, money, and additional resources into any projects happening. Therefore, in some cases having this type of information restricted or released to the public, especially while in the middle of a project, could cause great or even insurmountable damage to a project.

Another issue with being the victim of a cyber attack where data is stolen and leaked or restricted is public image could be affected. A cyber attack could be not only detrimental to the victims of the breach, but negatively affect the reputation of the institution as a whole. Being a reputable institution is important for multiple reasons, such as bringing in new students, revenue, research projects, specific programs, and so much more. In the case of a bad cyber breach, especially if due to the lack of care and emergency planning a damaged reputation could have massive negative effects and could cause the institution to lose out on all of the existing as well as potential benefits that a good reputation provides mentioned before. If people no longer trust an institution, even if new preventative measures have been put in place, it can be very hard to gain back that trust.

Overall, places of education are prime targets for a cyber attack and should invest in keeping their cybersecurity up to date in order to avoid any breaches. While breaches still may occur, having all of the proper precautions ensures that response time will be as quick as possible in order to mitigate any damages.

Healthcare

Another sector that was greatly affected by the MOVEit breach was the healthcare sector. Again, the extent of leaked information due to the MOVEit breach is not fully disclosed, however, it leads one to think about the extent of how a breach can affect the health care sector beyond the general data of leaked names, phone numbers, and addresses.

While a data leak within the healthcare system usually does contain basic personal information including names and addresses, it can also include financial information used to pay medical costs as well as any deeply personal information contained in health records. Some of the information hospitals keep can include dates of visits, specific doctors that a patient has seen or is currently seeing, any diagnoses or patient statuses, any current or past medications a patient may be taking, any allergies, biometric data such as blood type, and so much more.

The fact that an outsider could have access to all of this personal information alone is jarring, but can have even more detrimental effects given the nature of the healthcare field and the stress placed on the importance of timing in conjunction with medical procedures and practices. With medical issues there is a factor of time that is more urgent than some of the other sectors mentioned within this article. This is due to the fact that emergencies and procedures within the healthcare field have less flexibility in terms of time than other fields of work. While a school can suspend classes for a few days or even a week, suspending medications or surgeries can have more detrimental ramifications than the former. While both institutions will have to scramble in some ways to reorganize back to their daily operations, a healthcare institution has less leeway in terms of time when it comes to scheduled medications, etc.

The cyber security within a healthcare facility will also affect its reputation and having fortified defenses in case of a breach can help to build trust between any prospective patients, workers, and the community as a whole. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that healthcare facilities do their due diligence in creating a cybersecurity defense, and system overall, that can respond swiftly and efficiently as time is always of the essence within healthcare.

Finance

When it comes to financial information, again the breach goes beyond simple names and addresses. In terms of MOVEit, the extent of damage is not disclosed, but it opens up the way for a discussion of what kind of data has the potential to fall into the wrong hands in the case of a breach.

Both companies as a whole as well as individuals can be affected by a breach of financial information. An individual may have to think about their information regarding their bank accounts and records, previous places of employment, addresses, any current investments, retirement funds, pensions, and more.

In addition to general financial information, having access to previous payments could also lead to more personal knowledge such as any subscriptions, names of companies or institutions that are frequently accessed by an individual, and more. In terms of a company’s financial information being breached, the malicious party could have access to any financial information which can affect brand deals, partnerships, and upcoming projects to name a few.

Overall, a breach can affect the trust that the public has for a company overall when it comes to finances. The effects of this can be far reaching and even affect the company reputation as well as stock prices of any publicly traded company when the breach is known by the public. Therefore, it is much better to be proactive when it comes to cybersecurity and robust defenses in order to ensure the least amount of chance for a breach to occur.

Government

Another important sector to consider is the government. One of the reasons that this sector is so important to discuss is because it has multiple sections, and therefore any breach has the potential to affect many different governmental operations. While the full range of information that was hacked during the MOVEit breach was not disclosed, it does bring up the question of what information could the government have that would be of importance to consider in the case of a breach.

While the main basic information is again names, phone numbers, and addresses of anyone who works within the government, a breach can extend far beyond this. The information that is kept private could extend beyond just the people who work in government to any family members of these individuals and their financial information. In addition to this, when it comes to people running for election for any position of power within the government, data that is recorded can also include those running as well as people who financially helped to support any kind of campaign.

When it comes to government positions, there are also often different levels of clearance in terms of what projects and areas people have access to. When it comes to a cyber breach, this type of information on who has different clearances, as well as what those clearances are, can be very valuable information to consider. Especially when there are high level classifications to consider. This type of information being encrypted and in the wrong hands could have cataclysmic results.

The government is a gold mine of data in regards to many different sections, with a wide reaching web of departments and operations that could be affected by any cyber security breach. With this in mind, it is very important to have top notch cyber security, from the top level personnel all the way down to the newest hire.

Overview

Overall, the MOVEit breach has been one of the largest cybersecurity incidents of 2023 and really shows how wide reaching the effects of one cyber security breach can be. While we do not know the extent of most of the data that was collected due to this breach, we have explored the importance of cybersecurity within this article and have learned how big of a ripple effect one cyber attack can have. While the effects of a cyber breach can be scary, it is important to draw attention to the potential issues before they arise so that each institution or individual can be properly prepared. It is always better to be aware and proactive when it comes to keeping cybersecurity procedures up to date and protecting sensitive data, that way the proper precautions can mitigate any potential damage and any ripple effect can be kept to a minimum.

author avatar
Ali Allage
CEO @ BluesSteel Cybersecurity | Humanized Cybersecurity Compliance for Healthcare, FinTech, Education, & DoD
Share this post:
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Featured
Recent posts