The White House issued a cautionary statement following this week’s cyber attack against White House staff member Ian Mellul, the latest in an alarming number of high-profile breaches this year. “I think it should be a wake up call for all of us,” Press Secretary Josh Ernest said. “I think it’s important for all of us to be conscious of protecting our information and practicing good cyber hygiene.”
The anonymous website DCLeaks first published confidential emails from the White House staffer, which included detailed schedules and travel plans of democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama, including a scanned copy of the first lady’s passport. This follows last week’s breach of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose personal emails were published to the same website.
That an independent organization like DCLeaks has the ability to manipulate federal-level vulnerabilities speaks volumes to the current state of cybersecurity. As sophisticated hackers discover an ever-increasing number of vulnerabilities, the number and frequency of high-profile breaches will only increase. “These breaches are literally just the tip of the iceberg,” Robert Katz, Founder and Executive Director of the Innovation Intelligence Institute and featured speaker at the upcoming Global Cyber Security Conference, says. “The thing you have to be scared of is the unknown unknown.”
Yahoo announced on Thursday that over a half-billion user accounts were compromised two years ago in the largest intrusion of one company’s network. (The company released a statement suggesting the breach may be attributed to a “state-sponsored actor,” adding hostile nation states to the range of potential threats.) The Yahoo cyber attack comes just as Verizon works to finalize the $4.8 billion purchase of the multinational technology company. Investors are left grasping, shareholders are asking questions, and as the recoil hits the boardroom, the coming days will beg the question: how could this have possibly happened?
“The takeaway is that everybody has to be vigilant—it really takes a village,” Katz continues. “It’s like how a computer virus acts very much like a real virus. Yes, we have doctors who are trained in fighting disease, but the best people to fight disease are you and me….just use good hygiene and don’t get sick.”