Massive Robinhood ransomware attack triggered via customer support phone call

The news: Personal data of more than 7 million Robinhood clients were compromised in a massive data breach on the trading platform on November 3.

More on this: An unauthorized third party allegedly “socially designed a customer support employee over the phone” and had access to customer support systems, for example Robin Hood. Social engineering uses deception and manipulation to trick people into disclosing confidential information, leading to access to internal systems.

  • The perpetrator succeeded in obtaining a email list for about 5 million people and full names for a separate group of 2 million.
  • For a smaller group of 310 people, additional personal information including names, dates of birth and zip codes was also leaked. “More detailed account details” were exposed for a dozen clients.
  • Robinhood, who has 18.9 million monthly active users, said no customer suffered “financial loss” as a result of the incident; the company uses the Plaid data aggregator to log into users’ bank accounts.
  • Robinhood said the unauthorized third party requested an “extortion payment” and the company notified law enforcement, but did not say whether it made any payments.

The overview: Breaching Robinhood through social engineering reveals potential weaknesses in customer support services. Potential hackers can gain access to a company’s customer support systems, where vital personal data is stored.

  • The ransomware attack reveals that the data of a secure and distributed service or application may be compromised, exposing the fact that people can be the weakest link in cybersecurity.
  • Personal data of users can be taken hostage in ransomware attacks or sold to identity thieves.
  • the the average cost of a data breach was $ 3.8 million since 2015, by IBM, but increased by 15% to $ 4.4 million since the start of the pandemic.

Dive deeper: Read how Robinhood’s data breach won’t help reduce transaction volume in our Fintech briefing.

Joseph P. Harris