The Human Factors Behind the Robinhood Data Breach
Earlier this week, the trading app Robinhood announced a data breach in which a mixture of email addresses and full names of 7 million of their users were stolen. It is still unclear what impact this may have for Robinhood’s entire userbase. However, at the very least, this breach could provide attackers with enough information to carry out phishing and other social engineering attacks against those whose data was stolen. While on the face of it, this may appear to be your standard data breach, a closer look reveals how human factors lead to the breach.
While we don’t have all the details yet, according to Robinhood’s statement, the attack was carried out after someone called the company’s customer support line and tricked an employee into handing over access to “certain customer support systems.” From there, the attack was likely able to access customer information or gain additional access to other parts of Robinhood’s network. This form of attack is commonly known as a “vishing” attack, in which the attacker impersonates someone over the phone rather than through a traditional phishing email.
This form of attack is not uncommon and highlights a number of key questions that business leads need to consider when it comes to digital risk. First, it’s important to take a broad view of all the different avenues attackers could use to gain access to your systems. While your customer support channels may not come first to mind, any outward-facing platforms can pose a risk. Second, business leaders and their employees need to start thinking about how their own digital behaviors can be leveraged against you. Traditional security awareness programs do a good job at explaining issues and in some cases testing for the presence of negative digital behaviors. But, to start to see real change, security awareness training needs to focus on designing for the positive, more secure behaviors that are strong enough to override the bad online habits we develop.
Any way you cut it, the Robinhood data breach is yet another example that highlights the vital importance of taking a human-factored approach to cybersecurity. Business leaders need to actively invest in not just security tools, but also in training and controls that help employees understand human factors threats and what they need to do to ensure they don’t fall for social engineering scams.