Robinhood knowledge breach highlights rising risk of social engineering

Robinhood has struck headlines repeatedly over the previous 18 months. The US-based inventory buying and selling platform surged in recognition amid the long-running GameStop story, with new customers flocking to the app in hopes of placing it fortunate buying and selling shares.

Nonetheless, over the previous week Robinhood hit headlines for all of the fallacious causes. On Sunday seventh November, the agency launched particulars of a knowledge breach that leaked data belonging to thousands and thousands of customers.

Particulars launched by the corporate reveal a risk actor gained entry utilizing social engineering strategies, whereby an particular person is psychologically manipulated into divulging delicate data or performing sure actions.

In accordance with the buying and selling platform, the risk actor contacted a Robinhood buyer help employee, employed these strategies and had been capable of acquire entry to some help techniques. The unauthorised get together additionally demanded a cost, the corporate confirmed.

Data on as much as seven million app customers is believed to have been uncovered within the breach, together with 5 million electronic mail addresses, two million names and a small variety of person postcodes.

In a press release, Robinhood stated it doesn’t consider any account numbers, bank card data or social safety particulars had been uncovered within the breach, and to date clients are but to report any monetary losses on account of the incident.

“Primarily based on our investigation, the assault has been contained and we consider that no Social Safety numbers, checking account numbers, or debit card numbers had been uncovered and that there was no monetary loss to any clients on account of the incident,” the agency stated.

However though this seems to be considerably of a reprieve for customers, Examine Level Cloud Safety Engineer Stuart Inexperienced says additional down the road it will end in many being focused by cybercriminals utilizing their private particulars.

“The knowledge leaked right here is delicate and dangerous information for the Robinhood neighborhood,” he says.

“Malicious hackers can use the data leaked to hold out extra assaults towards the victims, like focused phishing emails, as names and dates of start can usually be used to confirm an individual’s id.”

Inexperienced urged Robinhood customers to instantly change their passwords, allow two-factor authentication and stay vigilant for any suspicious emails that land of their inboxes.

Social engineering, a looming risk

Crucially, the Robinhood knowledge breach highlights how efficient social engineering strategies might be. It’s why risk actors are coming to view such strategies as key weapons of their arsenal.

Statistics from Verizon’s 2020 DBIR research, for instance, revealed that 22% of information breaches brought on by malicious outsiders had been as a result of social engineering.

In accordance with Lisa Forte, a cybersecurity specialist and companion at Pink Goat Cyber Safety, the Robinhood knowledge breach reveals that social engineering is a critical concern for organisations and shoppers alike. And for the reason that onset of the pandemic, the difficulty has escalated as thousands and thousands pivoted to distant working.

At dwelling – and doubtlessly remoted – employees throughout a spread of industries turned prime targets for predatory fraudsters.

“The pandemic noticed an explosion in social engineering assaults,” she says. “That is because of the uncertainty all of us felt. We additionally all shifted our lives on-line, thereby rising our assault surfaces or potential”

“We noticed an enormous rise in “faux supply” messages for on-line purchasing, romance fraud, vaccine and NHS phishing and social engineering enjoying on the rise of controversial fringe teams, comparable to QAnon.”

Whereas these strategies seem relatively simplistic, they usually show extremely efficient and prey upon human feelings. Menace actors set up a way of belief and draw victims in earlier than inflicting havoc at an organisation or inflicting vital misery upon a person.

“Social Engineering is using deception to get somebody to do one thing they assume is benign however is definitely malicious to compromise an organization and its knowledge,” she explains.


There are a number of social engineering strategies leveraged by hackers and cybercriminals, Forte notes – and phishing is the plain instance that many will consider.

Nonetheless, fraudulent SMS messaging campaigns – referred to as ‘smishing assaults’ – are changing into extra widespread. In truth, smishing assaults elevated by practically 700% in the course of the first half of 2021, in accordance with analysis from client rights group, Which?

‘Vishing’, a sort of fraud that depends on manipulating individuals over the telephone, can also be rising in recognition and seems to have been the tactic employed within the Robinhood knowledge breach.

These rising threats have created a deadly cybersecurity panorama for organisations throughout a spread of industries and proceed to loom heavy over shoppers. But regardless of the apparent hazard, Forte says many companies are failing to completely tackle the size of the issue.

“I feel we underestimate the chance it poses. It’s acknowledged for certain, however are we giving it the respect that it wants? Most likely not. That is evidenced by the available stats displaying how phishing continues to be so efficient.

“That is now coupled with nefarious individuals including us and befriending us on social media platforms as a way to get us to cross over delicate data and even compromise safety,” she provides.

Countering the risk

Within the long-term, worker schooling on how one can spot and forestall social engineering assaults will assist organisations counter these rising threats, Forte notes, nevertheless it’s not a silver bullet.

These strategies are extremely deceitful and depend on inherent human vulnerabilities to crack organisational defences. As such, schooling and consciousness ought to at all times run parallel to sturdy processes.

“Coaching is important however must be backed up with good technical defences and procedures.

“Then on high of this, ‘larger danger roles’ comparable to finance groups, HR and execs want some extra detailed coaching as they maintain roles which are extra prone to be focused with refined social engineering owing to the entry they’ve.”

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