2024 started with a bang with the Mother of All Breaches: a massive data leak releasing billions of records from big-status companies. This breach has made mainstream headlines, so as a security manager, you may be getting questions about what your employees can do to protect themselves and your business.

In this article, we’ll recap the MOAB and give the next steps for individuals, security managers, and organizations. Send this in your #security Slack channel to get conversations going and simultaneously cover any questions that could be going around. 

What happened 

A leak of thousands of recently combined and reindexed leaked and privately sold databases has formed a supermassive data leak, also known as a Mother of All Breaches (MOAB). Cyber professionals recently discovered that the leak came after a firewall failure by Leak Lookup, a data leak search engine company. Billions of records of sensitive information from companies such as LinkedIn, Dropbox, Twitter, and Adobe were discovered alongside Government information from countries like the US, Germany, and Turkey. 

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To paint the picture of how massive this leak was, the other most recent Compilation of Multiple Breaches (COMB), which happened in 2023, was only 12% of the size of this MOAB. If you use any of the sites listed in the leak (which you probably do), your information was likely compromised. 

Why it matters

You may be thinking: So what if they have my LinkedIn information? Why does it matter? It’s not about having your leaked personal data that makes cyber criminals so powerful, it’s what they can do with it. 

Cyber criminals can use this information for identity theft and open bank accounts in your name or receive government payments meant for you. They can also use this information to create extremely believable social engineering attacks and prey on your peers.  

This can sound extremely alarming and overwhelming, but know that there are a few simple steps that you can take to protect yourself and those around you from the repercussions of this data leak.  

What to do as an individual

Check if your email has been leaked

There are great websites you can use to check if your email has been found in any recent data breaches. Have I Been Pwned and Cyber News both have free tools that will tell you exactly which breaches your emails have been found in. 

Update your passwords

However, since this breach was so large and recent, it’s less of a game of “Have I been breached?” and more of “Where am I vulnerable?” Take time to go through the companies that were listed in the breach and note which ones have your information. 

Then, update your passwords at each company to ensure that even if your information was leaked, hopefully, cyber criminals will no longer have access to these accounts. 

Monitor your banking 

Keep an eye on your bank transactions to make sure no one has gained access to your financial accounts. It is best to monitor these accounts closely for the next 2-3 months if you have ever given information to any of the businesses listed in the breach. 

Stay alert for social engineering & phishing scams

Now that you know about this breach, know that it is likely your family and friends have also had information leaked. This means more phishing and social engineering attacks, pretending to be people you know, may come your way. Stay on alert, take time to pause and think, and don’t be afraid to verify the sender before taking action. 

Help your family and friends stay safe by sharing this story with them so they know to stay alert, too. 

What to do as a security manager

Share this story with your organization

This story has made mainstream headlines, which is the perfect way to engage your team members in conversations about security. If they’ve already read about it, they are more likely to be interested in what you have to say and have questions prepared. Share this story in your next meeting or your main communications channel along with reflection questions or advice. 

Offer your support

Be proactive by offering support to anyone in your organization that could be affected. By offering a helping hand to those who feel threatened by this attack, you will build trust within your security culture. This will help you in the future when they later want to report suspicious activities or ask questions. Try hosting office hours or a Q&A to assist anyone dealing with this situation. 

Check your firewalls

Note that this all occurred because of a firewall failure. Take this as an opportunity to learn from someone else, and administer a check on your firewalls to ensure that they are working properly. 

What to do as an organization

Check for breached accounts

Collaborate with your security team to check if any of your accounts could have been possibly affected by this breach. Have each VP share any account their teams use and crosscheck with the list of affected companies. 

If you have direct contacts with any of your partners who were affected, reach out to see if they have additional information on leaked emails. 

As mentioned before, it’s best to assume that any accounts affiliated with this breach were affected. 

Request password changes from employees

Support your security team’s (likely) call to action for all employees to update passwords on all accounts. Encourage employees to set aside time for password changing and respect any changes in deadlines this may impact. 

Monitor financial accounts  

Just like individuals, it is recommended that businesses monitor their financial accounts with a stronger eye than usual for the next 2-3 months. This will ensure that if something were to happen, you catch it in time before a big impact is made. 

The Mother of All Breaches serves as a wake-up call for individuals, security managers, and organizations alike. In an era where digital threats are growing, proactive measures are imperative to protect ourselves from the fallout of massive data breaches. By staying informed, updating passwords, and checking your digital defences, you can use this story as an opportunity to strengthen your organization’s security. 

Have questions about how to better protect your organization from these emerging threats? Our Director of Cyber Security Solutions, Ryan, can answer any of your questions in a free 1-on-1 Q&A

No sales, no pitches – Just expert security advice to help create a more positive and informed security culture.