Deloitte Hit by Cyber Attack: Clients' Private Data Exposed

One of the world’s “big four” accountancy firms has been targeted by a sophisticated hack that compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its blue-chip clients.

Deloitte, which is registered in London and has its global headquarters in New York, was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that went unnoticed for months.

One of the largest private firms in the US, which reported a record $37bn (£27.3bn) revenue last year, Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the world’s biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies. Deloitte clients across all of these sectors had material in the company email system that was breached. The companies include household names as well as US government departments.

So far, six of Deloitte’s clients have been told their information was “impacted” by the hack. Deloitte’s internal review into the incident is ongoing. 

The hacker compromised the firm’s global email server through an “administrator’s account” that, in theory, gave them privileged, unrestricted “access to all areas”. The account required only a single password and did not have “two-step” verification, sources said. 

Emails to and from Deloitte’s 244,000 staff were stored in the Azure cloud service, which was provided by Microsoft. This is Microsoft’s equivalent to Amazon Web Service and Google’s Cloud Platform. In addition to emails, the hackers had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information. Some emails had attachments with sensitive security and design details.

The breach is believed to have been US-focused and was regarded as so sensitive that only a handful of Deloitte’s most senior partners and lawyers were informed.

The internal inquiry into how this happened has been codenamed “Windham”. It has involved specialists trying to map out exactly where the hackers went by analysing the electronic trail of the searches that were made. The team investigating the hack is understood to have been working out of the firm’s offices in Rosslyn, Virginia, where analysts have been reviewing potentially compromised documents for six months.

It has yet to establish whether a lone wolf, business rivals or state-sponsored hackers were responsible. Sources said if the hackers had been unable to cover their tracks, it should be possible to see where they went and what they compromised by regenerating their queries. This kind of reverse-engineering is not foolproof, however.

A measure of Deloitte’s concern came on 27 April when it hired the US law firm Hogan Lovells on “special assignment” to review what it called “a possible cybersecurity incident”.

The Washington-based firm has been retained to provide “legal advice and assistance to Deloitte LLP, the Deloitte Central Entities and other Deloitte Entities” about the potential fallout from the hack. Responding to questions from the Guardian, Deloitte confirmed it had been the victim of a hack but insisted only a small number of its clients had been “impacted”. It would not be drawn on how many of its clients had data made potentially vulnerable by the breach.

The Guardian newspaper was told an estimated 5m emails were in the “cloud” and could have been accessed by the hackers. Deloitte said the number of emails that were at risk was a fraction of this number but declined to elaborate. “In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilising a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte,” a spokesman said.
“As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators. 
“The review has enabled us to understand what information was at risk and what the hacker actually did, and demonstrated that no disruption has occurred to client businesses, to Deloitte’s ability to continue to serve clients, or to consumers.
“We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our cybersecurity defences are best in class, to investing heavily in protecting confidential information and to continually reviewing and enhancing cybersecurity. We will continue to evaluate this matter and take additional steps as required.
“Our review enabled us to determine what the hacker did and what information was at risk as a result. That amount is a very small fraction of the amount that has been suggested.”
Deloitte declined to say which government authorities and regulators it had informed, or when, or whether it had contacted law enforcement agencies.

Though all major companies are targeted by hackers, the breach is a deep embarrassment for Deloitte, which offers potential clients advice on how to manage the risks posed by sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.

“Cyber risk is more than a technology or security issue, it is a business risk,” Deloitte tells potential customers on its website.
“While today’s fast-paced innovation enables strategic advantage, it also exposes businesses to potential cyber-attack. Embedding best practice cyber behaviours help our clients to minimise the impact on business.”

Deloitte has a “Cyber Intelligence Centre” to provide clients with “round-the-clock business focused operational security”.
“We monitor and assess the threats specific to your organisation, enabling you to swiftly and effectively mitigate risk and strengthen your cyber resilience,” its website says. “Going beyond the technical feeds, our professionals are able to contextualise the relevant threats, helping determine the risk to your business, your customers and your stakeholders.”
In 2012, Deloitte, which has offices all over the world, was ranked the best cybersecurity consultant in the world.

Earlier this month, Equifax, the US credit monitoring agency, admitted the personal data of 143 million US customers had been accessed or stolen in a massive hack in May. It has also revealed it was also the victim of an earlier breach in March.
About 400,000 people in the UK may have had their information stolen following the cybersecurity breach. The US company said an investigation had revealed that a file containing UK consumer information “may potentially have been accessed”.

The data includes names, dates of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers, but does not contain postal addresses, passwords or financial information. Equifax, which is based in Atlanta, discovered the hack in July but only informed consumers in the second week of September.

Guardian:

You Might Also Read:

Equifax Executives Resign Without Charge:

PWC On The Hunt For 1,000 Data Scientists:

 

« Russia Attacked By ‘Full Scale Cyber War’
Was The German Election Hacked? »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Authentic8

Authentic8

Authentic8 transforms how organizations secure and control the use of the web with Silo, its patented cloud browser.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout enables cyber security professionals to reduce cyber risk to their organization with proactive security solutions, providing immediate improvement in security posture and ROI.

MIRACL

MIRACL

MIRACL provides the world’s only single step Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which can replace passwords on 100% of mobiles, desktops or even Smart TVs.

The PC Support Group

The PC Support Group

A partnership with The PC Support Group delivers improved productivity, reduced costs and protects your business through exceptional IT, telecoms and cybersecurity services.

ManageEngine

ManageEngine

As the IT management division of Zoho Corporation, ManageEngine prioritizes flexible solutions that work for all businesses, regardless of size or budget.

Serena

Serena

Serena Software helps increase speed of the software development lifecycle while enhancing security, compliance, and performance.

Centrify

Centrify

Centrify’s Next-Gen Access is an identity & access management solution that uniquely converges Identity-as-a-Service, enterprise mobility management and privileged access management.

Cato Networks

Cato Networks

Cato connects your branch locations, physical and cloud datacenters, and mobile users into a secure and optimized global network in the cloud.

Thinklogical

Thinklogical

Thinklogical manufactures secure, KVM, video, audio, and computer peripheral signal switching solutions for defence C4ISR applications.

Watchdata Technologies

Watchdata Technologies

Watchdata Technologies is a pioneer in digital authentication and transaction security.

CIRISK

CIRISK

CIRISK offers a wide range of services from consulting to audit or project management to help you develop your cyber security or information security strategy.

PSYND

PSYND

PSYND is a Swiss consultancy company based in Geneva specialized in CyberSecurity and Identity & Access Management.

SensorHound

SensorHound

SensorHound’s mission is to improve the security and reliability of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Extreme Protocol Solutions (EPS)

Extreme Protocol Solutions (EPS)

Extreme Protocol Solutions is an industry leading Data Sanitization Software, Hardware and Onsite Service Provider.

ioXt Alliance

ioXt Alliance

The ioXt Alliance is a group of manufacturers, industry alliances and government organizations dedicated to harmonizing best security practices in a highly connected world.

Netragard

Netragard

Netragard has an established reputation for providing high-quality offensive and defensive security services.

United Network Technologies

United Network Technologies

United Network Technologies is a leading Managed Services Provider, distributor and developer of specialised cyber security components and technologies.

Digitpol

Digitpol

Digitpol’s Cyber Crime Investigation experts investigate hacking incidents, ransomware, extortion and conduct security audits and IT upgrades.

TheGreenBow

TheGreenBow

TheGreenBow is a trusted VPN software company. We help organizations and individuals become cyber-responsible. For this, we design and develop reliable and easy-to-use solutions.

CyberSecureRIA

CyberSecureRIA

We founded CyberSecureRIA specifically to secure and support RIAs. We exist to secure SEC-registered RIAs, and keep them compliant with cybersecurity regulations.

HEAL Security

HEAL Security

HEAL Security is the global authority for cybersecurity data, research and insights across the healthcare sector.