Former Amazon Web Services system engineer Paige A. Thompson was accessing Capital One databases for months
Capital One, the fifth-largest credit card issuer and banking institution in the U.S, suffered a data breach that affected 106 million of its customers. Starting from March 2019, a now-known culprit Paige A. Thompson, accessed the internal databases and stole information about customers who have applied for the credit card from 2005 to 2019, according to the statement from the company The FBI found the responsible hacker and arrested her, but the investigation is still in the process.
The information accessed during the firewall hack contains details of 100 million credit card applicants in the United States and 6 million Canadians. Unfortunately, this incident exposed data like bank account numbers, insurance numbers, and names, dates of birth, credit score details, and even balance and its limits. According to Capital One, logins, credit card numbers, social security numbers of most of the customers are secure, as this data has no been accessed during the breach:
The largest category of information accessed was information on consumers and small businesses as of the time they applied for one of our credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. This information included personal information Capital One routinely collects at the time it receives credit card applications, including names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.
The responsible hacker formerly worked for Capital One contractor
Unfortunately, the company didn't know about the breach for at least four months until the information about the data breach was posted on GitHub platform on July 19th. The accused Paige Thompson, who is also known as “erratic,” was a former Amazon Web Services software engineer who worked for the contractor of Capital One from 2015 to 2016.
The hacker was charged with computer fraud in the U.S. District Court on Monday, and now faces five years in prison, as well as a $250 000 fine. According to the documents from the court, Thompson hacked the firewall by exploiting the misconfiguration on Capital One's Amazon Web Services server and acquired access to customers' data.
More than 700 folders got stolen on March 22nd and 23rd. During the hack, the web service was not compromised, as the flaw lied within Capital One's own servers and not vulnerabilities in Amazon's infrastructure.
The FBI investigation traced hacker back to her house
An anonymous source who saw the post on GitHub reported the findings on July 17th to Capital One, which immediately began an investigation and alerted users in a press release statement. As of now, it is not clear whether the stolen data is secure, and millions of users could face the consequences like corrupt credit scores or even identity theft.
When search warrants allowed the FBI to check Thompson's house, digital devices were found at her place, and many digital footprints linked her to Capital One hack.
The hack was successful because of Thompson's expertise and the information posted by her on social media showed that she worked on the same server that she accessed as an engineer. The criminal will stay in federal custody until the next hearing on August 1st.
In the meantime, Capital One faces an issue and spends more to ensure security, although the bank spends at least $600 million per year for the security alone. The company had a similar incident back in 2017 when the former employee accessed the personal customer data for at least four months.