Capital One Data Breach of 2019: Exploiting Misconfigured Cloud Infrastructure

ByThreat Analyst

17 July 2021

In 2019, Capital One, one of the largest banks in the United States, experienced a significant data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of customers. The breach highlighted the importance of securing cloud infrastructure and the potential consequences of misconfigurations.

1. Breach Overview and Impact

a. Timeline: The breach occurred in March 2019 and was discovered and reported by Capital One in July 2019. The attacker gained unauthorized access to customer data stored on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers.

b. Data Exposed: The breach compromised personal information of approximately 106 million Capital One customers, including names, addresses, credit scores, and Social Security numbers. A smaller number of customers had their credit card details and transaction data exposed.

c. TTPs (MITRE ATT&CK): The specific TTPs associated with the Capital One breach are not publicly disclosed.

2. Exploiting Misconfigured Cloud Infrastructure

The breach was facilitated by a misconfiguration in Capital One’s AWS cloud infrastructure, allowing the attacker to gain unauthorized access to the data stored in the cloud. While the specific TTPs are not available, possible TTPs in such breaches can include:

  • Exploiting weak access controls: Attackers may leverage misconfigured access controls to gain unauthorized privileges within the cloud infrastructure.
  • Leveraging stolen credentials: Attackers might utilize stolen or compromised credentials to access cloud resources.
  • Abusing privilege escalation: Attackers may attempt to escalate their privileges within the compromised cloud environment to access sensitive data or other resources.

3. Response and Mitigation Efforts

Capital One promptly addressed the breach, notifying affected customers, offering credit monitoring services, and cooperating with law enforcement agencies. The company also implemented additional security measures and enhanced its cloud infrastructure to prevent similar incidents in the future.

4. Lessons Learned

The Capital One data breach underscored the importance of robust security practices for cloud-based environments. It highlighted the critical need for organizations to properly configure and secure their cloud infrastructure, implement strong access controls, and regularly audit and monitor for potential vulnerabilities. The incident served as a reminder for businesses to prioritize security measures when leveraging cloud services.

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