What is PII Abuse?
Your PII is data that can be used to directly or indirectly identify you. A long list of information can be used to do this including your age, credit card information, date of birth, name, phone number, and even your healthcare information - this is all information that many give out freely online, and is stored by nearly all organizations in our digital age.
PII abuse sees the unauthorized access and exploitation of this information. Because PII is both sensitive and versatile in nature, it is very valuable to threat actors. Once attained, it can be used in a plethora of ways, such as social engineering to gain access to a business and conduct more nefarious cybercrime after, or for fraudulent activity against a business, causing financial and reputational damage.
How is your PII taken?
Some of the ways that your PII can be taken and exploited are:
Whether an employee is deceived into disclosing PII through a phishing attack, freely revealing PII on social media without understanding the risks, or improperly disposing of both paper and electronic data housing this information, human error is one of the greatest causes of data breaches that result in PII abuse.
Accidental or unlawful disclosures of confidential information are the most prevalent ways in which threat actors access PII. Whether the breach is achieved by insider leaks, phishing attacks, or exploiting system vulnerabilities; the exposed information is likely to be used for financial gain or to enable more nefarious cybercrime activity.
Information Stealing Malware
This type of malware collects a wealth of information from victims’ systems, including PII, and sends it back to the operator behind the malware. This malware also creates ‘logs’ which are sold, purchased or given away for free by underground threat actors. As such, the risk posed by this malware stealing PII is not limited to a single operator, but also may provide a number of threat actors access for their own agendas.
What Can You Do to Protect Against PII Abuse?
Ensure staff know how to spot the signs of phishing, the risks of flaunting PII on their personal social media pages, and how to correctly dispose of PII data so that this type of information remains confidential.
CTI can provide an organization with real-time intelligence about relevant threats, vulnerabilities, and threat actors to enable a proactive defense against attacks that result in PII abuse or to quickly detect an active attack and mitigate its impact.
Threat actors are constantly searching for vulnerabilities to exploit. Running on outdated patches allows actors to easily leverage vulnerabilities in your software and access to PII stored within your system.
How Can Intel 471 Help?
Intel 471 has access to tens of millions of unique data points, including underground markets and restricted access forums across the world where stolen goods, including PII, are sold. You can set watchers to be notified as soon as relevant goods, even data you didn’t know had been compromised, are up for sale so you can rapidly respond to reduce the risk it presents.
Our ‘boots on the ground’ intelligence teams provide our customers with unique intelligence about the threat actors committing PII abuse: how they operate, and how they access your PII. Organizations can apply this intelligence to respond faster, and prepare better against future attacks.
You can’t protect what you can’t see. Use Intel 471’s Attack Surface Protection solutions to regularly map your internet-facing assets and discover unknown assets such as unused, unpatched devices to reduce possible entry-points for an attacker or rogue assets like impersonating internal or external websites to steal personal information belonging to employees or customers.
Patching is invaluable but inexhaustible, and continuously taking systems offline to conduct it can have a considerable impact on business operations. Intel 471 monitors for precursors to malicious activity and tracks the life cycles of vulnerabilities so that you can prioritize patching according to your operational needs, preventing threat actors from gaining access to PII.
Intel 471 is your window to the cyber underground. Our unparalleled CTI solution gives organizations all they need to help protect themselves against PII abuse, including: