T-Mobile after completing its recent merger with Sprint, ended 2020 by announcing its second data breach of the year. T-Mobile US, Inc., doing business as T-Mobile, is an American wireless network operator. Its largest shareholder is the German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom with a 43% share, with Japanese conglomerate holding company SoftBank Group partially owning the company as well at a 24% share. Its headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, in the Seattle metropolitan area. T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless carrier in the United States, with 100.3 million subscribers as of the end of Q3 2020.
The cell giant said in a notice buried on its website that it recently discovered unauthorized access to some customers’ account information, including the data that T-Mobile makes and collects on its customers in order to provide cell service. From the notice: “Our cybersecurity team recently discovered and shut down malicious, unauthorized access to some information related to your T-Mobile account. We immediately started an investigation, with assistance from leading cybersecurity forensics experts, to determine what happened and what information was involved. We also immediately reported this matter to federal law enforcement and are now in the process of notifying impacted customers.”
Known as customer proprietary network information (CPNI), this data can include call records, such as when a call was made, for how long, the caller’s phone number and the destination phone numbers for each call, and other information that might be found on the customer’s bill. But the company said that the hackers did not access names, home or email addresses, financial data and account passwords (or PINs).
A spokesperson for T-Mobile said the breach happened in early December, and affects about 0.2% of all T-Mobile customers or approximately 200,000 customers.
It is the latest security incident to hit the cell giant in recent years.
In 2018, T-Mobile said that as many as two million customers may have had their personal information scraped. A year later, the company confirmed hackers accessed records on another million prepaid customers. Just months into 2020, T-Mobile admitted to a breach on its email systems that saw hackers access some T-Mobile employee email accounts, exposing some customer data.
This breach was reported during the same time frame of the SolarWinds supply chain hack which is believed to have impacted as many as 250 government agencies and businesses. It was previously revealed that the list of victims included major tech companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and VMware, and U.S. government agencies such as the State Department, Commerce Department, Treasury, DHS, and the National Institutes of Health.
Microsoft admitted recently that the attackers gained access to some of its source code, but the company claimed they could not have made any modifications to the code.
It is up to all organizations and businesses to protect themselves against cyber threats, attacks and ransomware demands. The largest companies in the world have recently admitted to having their systems and networks attacked. What will you do differently in 2021?
Red Sky Alliance has been has analyzing and documenting cyber threats for 9 years and maintains a resource library of malware and cyber actor reports. There are extensive reports on many of the threats mentioned in this article that can be found at https://redskyalliance.org. There is no charge for these reports and articles posted.
What can you do to better protect your organization today?
- All data in transmission and at rest should be encrypted.
- Proper data back-up and off-site storage policies should be adopted and followed.
- Implement 2-Factor authentication company wide. (Read Multifactor Authentication or MFA)
- Join and become active in your local Infragard chapter, there is no charge for membership. infragard.org
- Update disaster recovery plans and emergency procedures with cyber threat recovery procedures. And test them.
- Institute cyber threat and phishing training for all employees, with testing and updating.
- Recommend/require cyber security software, services and devices to be used by all at home working employees and consultants.
- Review and update your cyber threat and information security policies and procedures. Make them a part of all emergency planning and training.
- Ensure that all software updates and patches are installed immediately.
- Enroll your company/organization in RedXray for daily cyber threat notifications are directed at your domains. RedXray service is $500 a month and provides threat intelligence on nine (9) cyber threat categories including Keyloggers, with having to connect to your network.
- Purchase annual cyber insurance coverage from Red Sky Alliance provided by Cysurance.
Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or email@example.com.
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