Verizon's breach experts missed one right under their noses

An intruder to Verizon Enterprise stole contact data on customers -- maybe as many as 1.5 million

Verizon Enterprise, a bulwark against cyberattacks at many large organizations, has suffered a security breach itself.

A flaw in the company's systems allowed an attacker to steal contact information on Verizon Enterprise customers, the company acknowledged Thursday. Verizon said it has fixed the flaw and is notifying those users, but it hasn't disclosed how many were affected.

The intruder couldn't get to any customer proprietary network information, Verizon said, referring to data such as call records and billing information.

The breach came to light Thursday in a post on the blog Krebs on Security. Krebs reported the hacker stole contact information for about 1.5 million Verizon Enterprise customers and offered it for sale for US$100,000 on a cybercrime forum. Because the data was offered for sale in the MongoDB format, among others it's likely the attacker forced a MongoDB database at Verizon to dump its contents, the blog said.

Verizon prides itself on keeping abreast of the latest attack methods by monitoring its global Internet backbone, and it uses that information to tell customers how to secure their systems. It also sells managed security services for enterprises.

In a report last year on data from more than 70 organizations, the company estimated that the average cost to a company of one breached data record was US$0.58. It found a wide range of total costs in different cases, up to $100,000 per record.

But in the same report, Verizon found breaches were being discovered more quickly. The time to discovery had fallen from months and weeks to hours and days, it said. Still, intruders can start to do damage immediately. Only 8 percent of breaches were discovered within seconds, the report said.

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Stephen Lawson

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