Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches in Review: July 2022

Welcome to our latest monthly review of cyber attacks and data breaches. In July 2022, we found 85 publicly disclosed security incidents, accounting for 99,243,757 breached records.

In this blog, we take a closer look at the cyber threat landscape in Europe.

German chancellor loses top secret documents

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, left top secret documents scattered in the streets after failing to properly dispose of them, a new report claims.

Scholz’s neighbours found the documents, which fell out of his bin after it was torn open by foxes. They said it was immediately clear that the papers, which had not been shredded, were confidential government briefings.

The documents mainly related to the chancellor’s wife, Britta Ernst, who is the education minister in the state of Brandenburg. The files contained a briefing note written by the country’s foreign office relating to the upcoming G7 Summit, including specific details about each of the G7 leaders’ partners.

Among the files was a draft speech that Ernst was due to give at the parliament in Brandenburg, along with a detailed schedule of where she would be and with whom she would be meeting.

According to the documents, Ernst had also signed up to language classes in order to improve her English skills.

Scholz has come under heavy criticism for his negligence. The German magazine Der Spiegel said the Chancellor and his wife “apparently have a relaxed relationship with confidential documents”.

Meanwhile, Bild wrote: “In the Scholz house, they don’t take it very seriously when it comes to waste separation – and certainly not when it comes to keeping secrets.”

The details of the leaked documents provide interesting details about the inner workings of the German government, but fortunately for Olaf Scholz, there were few substantial details among the strewn rubbish.

Nonetheless, the documents were labelled confidential and therefore should not have simply thrown away.

Several documents were marked ‘VS Confidential’, which is the highest standard of classification in the German government. Such papers must not leave the premises of official government buildings or be taken on official visits.

When the documents are no longer needed, they must be shredded, and reasonable precautions should be taken to prevent unauthorised actors from reconstructing the files. As soon as the information leaves a secure premises, whether that’s someone’s office or their home, there is little you can do to protect it.

It might seem unlikely that malicious actors would stumble across information in an unmarked rubbish bin, but incidents such as this demonstrate how careful people must be.

Hacker targets Lisbon hotel after compromising Booking.com account

A criminal hacker was able to steal almost €500,000 after compromising a Lisbon hotel’s Booking.com account.

The malicious actor reportedly targeted the Marino Boutique Hotel’s access to the online booking platform and intercepted reservations. According to CNN Portugal, more than a thousand customers inadvertently made bogus bookings between 12 June and 16 June.

During that time, the hotel was unable to access the Booking.com platform, but initially thought it was due to an error with the third party.

However, employees should have spotted something was amiss when the site started listing new rooms at a discount price. The criminal hacker was advertising rooms for €40 a night, instead of the usual price of €200 to €300.

Customers who booked a room were sent a payment link that diverted the funds to a bank account controlled by the criminal hacker.

It’s unclear whether the Marino Boutique Hotel or Booking.com will refund customers who were duped. It’s also not yet known how the attacker was able to access the hotel’s systems.

The most likely scenario is that they compromised an employee’s login credentials, but reports indicate that Booking.com requires users to use two-factor authentication.

As such, it would not simply be a case of sending a phishing email to trick someone into handing over their username and password. The criminal hacker would also had to have accessed the employee’s device or authentication code.

That’s possible but much harder. If that is indeed how the attacker launched their attack, it’s a sign that they were skilled and had the resources to target specific hotel employees.

Are you prepared for a cyber attack?

If you’re facing a cyber security disaster, IT Governance is here to help.

Our Emergency Cyber Incident Response Service provides the support you need to deal with the threat, as our experts guide you through the recovery process.

They’ll review the breach, mitigate the damage and ensure that you are up and running again as soon as possible.

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