Insider Threats Cost Ticketmaster $10 Million Fine!

Ticketmaster agreed to pay the fine of $10 million after being charged for illegally accessing the systems of a startup rival.

What appears to be is a long-running legal battle for Ticketmaster after it was charged with conspiracy to commit hacking and wire fraud targeting Songkick. A judge in federal court in New York City indicted Ticketmaster with a hefty amount of $10 million after found guilty.

The allegations were first reported in 2017 after Crowdsurge claimed Live Nation of breaking the antitrust law. The company accused the Ticketmaster of accessing sensitive information and credentials of CrowdSurge tools.

In 2018, Ticketmaster reached $110 million to settle an agreement with Songkick and resolve the antivirus lawsuit under which Live Nation agreed to acquire Songkick’s technology assets and patents.

According to court documents, Live Nation hired an employee who formerly worked for CrowdSurge, which later merged with Songkick. The employee, Stephen Mead, hatched the plan with a co-worker named Zeeshan Zaidi to hack and steal the clients’ information of Songkick in order to discourage the clients from doing business with the company.

Stephen Mead shared the passwords with Zeeshan Zaidi, the former head of Ticketmaster’s artist services division, and another Ticketmaster employee. The passwords had access to Artist Toolbox, an app that provided the data of tickets sold through the CrowdSurge.

“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly — and illegally — accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme.

A statement from Ticketmaster confirmed that the conduct involved only two employees who were fired back in 2017. “Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values,” the statement said. “We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”

Risk Posed by Insider Threats

The insider threats don’t have to be employees currently working in the organization but it can be anyone from former employees to business partners, contractors, temporary employees, or any that have easy access to your organization’s network.

Insider threats are particularly dangerous as they know everything about the organization inside out more than threat actors. They have the authorization and when this authorization is abused and leveraged the outcome can completely jeopardize the organization.

When insider threats try to enter the organization’s IT infrastructure they have the advantage. They are typically familiar with the organization’s cyber security posture and its weaknesses, information on how the data is protected and where it is stored. Since the insider threats have already access to the organization’s sensitive information, organizers do find it harder to defend themselves from the insiders than from outsiders’ threats.

Taking this into account, insider attacks can result in a devastating loss for an organization. According to a report by IBM, $11.45 million is the total average cost of insider-related incidents. Insider attacks can lead to a variety of consequences from exposure of loss of customers’ trust to exposure of sensitive information and trade secrets.

The image shows some common consequences of an insider attack
The image shows some common consequences of an insider attack
The image shows some common consequences of an insider attack

How to Stay Secure Against Insider Threats?

Insider threats continue to be a major issue in securing the IT infrastructure within the organization. Several organizations are at least facing one malicious insider incident a year and it has become the biggest contributor to cyber attacks.

Though employees are to be trusted, it is crucial to be aware that several organizations have been betrayed by their trusted employees. If your organization is yet to implement preventive measures against insider threats then here are a few steps to ensure that your organization is protected inside and out:

  • Restrict or limit privileged access to the organization’s sensitive data
  • Always run a background check while hiring a new employee or partner
  • Periodically change passwords to prevent saved password abuse
  • Monitor employees’ actions and report on any unusual activity
  • Provide cyber security training to employees with tools like ThreatCop to be aware of the latest cyber attacks and threats with simulated cyber attacks.

Insider threats have become one of the high priority concerns that businesses are facing today. It is not only hard to discover the threat but also difficult to prevent. However, by implementing the right steps and cyber security measures, an organization can lessen the risks.

And though implementing the security measurements will help, but educating employees to be responsible for securing the organization’s IT infrastructure is a must. Employees should realize the importance of cyber security and maintain security policies to mitigate prevailing cyber threats.

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