What MSPs Can Learn from the Great Bitcoin Heist of 2013

What MSPs Can Learn from the Great Bitcoin Heist of 2013

Bitcoin is the world’s most popular digital currency – so what does it have to do with MSPs and cloud-based file sharing? We’ll highlight some valuable security lessons from a recent Bitcoin heist.

If you're even vaguely familiar with Bitcoin, you know that it's the world's most popular digital currency. If you're quite familiar with Bitcoin, you know that just last week hackers stole $1.2 million of the currency in a much-publicized social engineering attack. And if you're a MSP who offers cloud-based file sharing services and who's familiar with this story, you've learned a valuable lesson in cloud security – several lessons, actually.

The main lesson: If something of value is stored in the cloud, it's only a matter of time before hackers attempt to steal it.

More on that in a second. But first, I wanted to share some of the details of this story courtesy of Wired. Here are the important details:

  • Inputs.io offered Bitcoin wallets, a private cryptograph key used to send money to a third party
  • The site was compromised twice in less than 4 days, as hackers stole $1.2 million of Bitcoins
  • The company waited almost two full weeks to notify users
  • The company doesn’t have the funds to cover the stolen amount
  • The attack was done through social engineering, "compromising a chain of email accounts which eventually allowed the attacker to reset the password for the Linode server."

In the end, the hackers returned the stolen Bitcoins and everyone became friends. Just kidding. It’s still a disaster. And if companies don’t learn the valuable lesson from this story, they could end up in a disastrous situation of their own.

As we mentioned earlier, the main lesson here is that hackers are always on the lookout for valuable files to steal, but there are other lessons as well. Let’s take a look a few in particular:

  • Be prepared: Judging from the repeat attacks, along with the delay in communication, it’s pretty safe to say the company mentioned above wasn’t prepared for what transpired. They might have known about the possibility of an attack, but they had no plans in place if such an event were to occur. MSPs cannot guarantee 100 percent security, but they can guarantee that if something goes wrong, they’ll have a detailed course of action.
  • Visibility matters: With four days in between attacks, there’s a very good possibility that the company itself wasn’t aware of the heist immediately. If not for the user noticing the theft, perhaps they still wouldn’t know. Here we see the value of a solution that offers complete visibility for administrators. If an attack were to occur within an average business, they could see which files were compromised, when and with whose account. Oversight is critical to stopping something before it gets worse.
  • It starts small: In this case, it started by a hacker retrieving an old email account. Your instance might be different. The point is that big attacks often have small beginnings, so you need a solution that takes no shortcuts and no chances in terms of authorized users – something you can only find in a cloud-based file-sharing solution designed specifically for businesses.
  • Communicate: Two weeks is a long time to hold off telling your user base that $1.2 million of their money was stolen, don’t you think? Same here. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but customers need to know as soon as possible. It’s the law, in fact.

What other lessons can we learn from the great Bitcoin heist of 2013? The best answer gets $1.2 million in Bitcoins. Too soon?

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