Not all security breaches are created equal. Take last week’s LinkedIn fiasco as an example. As it turns out, LinkedIn didn’t even take rudimentary steps security experts say are Security 101 for data protection.
That made a bad situation for LinkedIn, downright horrible because while the breach can happen to anyone, what happened once the hackers got inside the system was reportedly preventable.
And this should be lesson for every IT Pro out there. Do whatever you can to protect your data. You might not keep hackers from passing inside your firewall. As we’ve learned, that’s just way too easy to do these days, but do whatever is considered standard best practices to protect the data once the hackers get inside.
As I wrote in a post last week, Cloudflare Attack Proves Hackers are Relentless, hackers are surprisingly creative when it comes to breaking through your security. In the Cloudflare case, they used four unrelated vulnerabilities to get inside the system. When hackers are that, well, relentless, it’s hard to guard against attacks.
But news stories emerged late last week with details about the LinkedIn issue. Surely, hackers found their way inside LinkedIn’s defenses, and that was problem number one, but the bigger problem was once inside, they could grab fistfuls of passwords because as the Storm Blog reported, LinkedIn did only half of what they should have to protect the passwords.
As the Storm Blog post explained, there are two levels of password security. One is called Hashing and the other Salting. Hashing places the password inside a protective hastag, but it’s not enough because if you just hash, you can still read the password. That’s why you also have to salt, which adds extra information that makes it more difficult to extract the password.
LinkedIn did the former, but not the latter and that was a big mistake on its part.
From an individual standpoint, it meant if you share passwords across sites, it’s time to change that universal password. Matt Heuser wrote a post on TechTarget with some smart password writing rules.
But we know that individuals are the weakest link in your security chain. You probably don’t want to leave it up to them. If you’re looking to secure user data, you need to take every step you can to ensure that the data is safe as possible.
The New York Times reported that within a day of the breach there were already phishing attacks based on the newly found information.
Meanwhile LinkedIn refused to fess up and take full responsibility for the action saying it wasn’t as bad as reported. Wrong way to deal with the issue.
Breaches are going to happen as sure as the sun will shine, but if you’re a company like LinkedIn, you need to be taking the necessary steps to ensure the data is as safe as possible. If you fail to do this, expect to be called to task when a major breach occurs and your user data is scattered to the winds. And if you have an issue, for goodness sakes, be open and honest with your user base about what happened. Don’t deflect and deny or it will only make it worse.