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Some of the common attacks affecting businesses and organizations

Some of the common attacks affecting businesses and organizations

In this module, you learned about some of the common attacks affecting businesses and organizations and the defenses they must put in place to reduce the risk to their systems and to any private information that should not be publicly accessed. Security controls take many forms and can be categorized into three main groups: administrative, technical, and physical controls. As you also learned, you can have a control in each group protecting the same asset, meaning you have layered your defenses.

In this activity, you will read about how First American Financial Corporation (FAF) exposed over 85 million records on its public website in 2019. Not only were these records exposed, but the company was not aware of the breach until it was notified by renowned security expert Brian Krebs.

For this week’s activity:

    Read the case study and the articles provided in the Supporting Materials section.
    Consider ways in which First American Financial Corporation could have proactively defended against the record breach.
    Respond to the provided case study questions.


Case Study: In 2019, one of the largest data breaches in history occurred when First American Financial Corporation, a real estate title insurance company, exposed over 885 million records on its public website. Included in these records was information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, images of driver’s licenses, mortgage statements, tax documents, and wire transfer records dating all the way back to 2003. The company was not aware of the problem until it was notified by security expert Brian Krebs, an outside source.

A real estate developer outside of FAF first noticed this concern when they found that anyone who knew the URL for a valid document could then access any other document simply by changing a number in the URL. The company’s website, firstam.com, was leaking hundreds of millions of private documents not intended to be viewed by just any user. This means that any individual who had previously been emailed a link from FAF could possibly gain access to a plethora of sensitive and private documents. No authentication was required in order to access these documents, nor were they protected in any other way. This left a lot of personal and private information exposed for those with malicious intent to use in nefarious ways, for example, identity theft.

When FAF was notified of the breach, it shut down its website and immediately conducted an internal review. The initial findings noted that there was a “design defect in an application that made possible unauthorized access to customer data” (Newman, 2019). The identified defect could be referred to as a business logic flaw, which is “a category of vulnerabilities specific to an application and business domain . . . [It] allows an attacker to misuse the application by circumventing the business rules of the application” (Conikee, 2019). Only a user with an appropriate link would be able to access these documents. However, a user would not be asked to verify their identity. Therefore, access was easy and unauthenticated.

Supporting Materials

These articles will provide you with greater insight into the scenario provided and help you prepare for your response to the case study questions:

    Hack Brief: 885 Million Sensitive Financial Records Exposed Online
    3 Takeaways from the First American Financial Breach
    Understanding the First American Financial Data Leak: How Did It Happen and What Does It Mean?

Guidelines for Submission

Security professionals should take the time to reflect on past incidents in order to prevent similar problems from occurring. Respond to the case study questions below related to the Module Two case study. Your submission should be 1 to 2 pages, double-spaced, and submitted as a Word document (.docx). Resources must be appropriately cited using APA style. You are allowed, although not required, to use resources outside of those provided within Module One, Module Two, and the Supporting Materials section.

Your responses should be in complete paragraphs and should contain the following:

    Answer all of the case study questions thoroughly and completely. Write out the questions in your submission.
    Make direct connections between the issues identified in the case study and the concepts covered in the provided resources in Modules One and Two, as well as the Supporting Materials.
    Support your answers with appropriate examples and facts drawn from the case study.
    Use correct grammar, sentence structure, and spelling, and demonstrate an understanding of audience and purpose.

Case Study Questions

    How did this breach occur? Briefly summarize the incident.
    Which pillars of the CIA triad were explicitly violated, given the scenario?
    What kinds of security controls could First American Financial Corporation have put in place to defend against this kind of data breach? Why?

Paper Format: APA

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Some of the common attacks affecting businesses and organizations


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