Korn/Ferry breach details emerge

Thanks to the California Attorney General’s Office, we now have some of the details on the Korn/Ferry breach, reported yesterday on this blog. Korn/Ferry is an executive recruiting firm.

In their sample notification, Thom Steinoff, CTO, writes:

We are writing to inform you about a recent incident involving our data network. We recently learned that we were the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack. We deeply regret that this incident occurred and take very seriously the security of our network.

But when did this “recent” incident occur? They don’t say at this point, but they indicate later that it may have gone on for months before they learned of it in August.

We began investigating the incident as soon as we learned of it.

How did they learn of it? They don’t say. And why did it take them months to learn of it? They don’t tell us that, either.

While our investigation is ongoing, we have determined that, although the affected databases were not designed or structured to receive sensitive personal information, a small percentage of the files nevertheless included an individual’s name in combination with his or her driver’s license number, government-issued identification number, Social Security number, credit card numbers or health information. It is important to note that we have no evidence that access to personal information was the goal of the attack.

Korn/Ferry has already taken a number of steps to enhance the security of the relevant computer network. In addition to these steps, we have been working with law enforcement in connection with their investigation of the incident. Korn/Ferry quickly secured its network against the attack, which appears to have been underway for a number of months, shortly after discovering it in August 2012. Korn/Ferry was asked by federal law enforcement officials, however, to delay disclosure of the existence of the attack until now.

Emphasis in the above added by me.

You can read the full letter here, which includes an offer of free credit monitoring protection.

In light of this explanation, their press release yesterday is even more problematic as their statement, “The databases that were impacted are not designed or structured to collect credit card, payment card, bank account, social security numbers, government identification numbers or health information. ” might  have been interpreted by some to mean that those types of data were not in the impacted databases. To the contrary, while the databases were not supposed to have such data, they apparently did.

Korn/Ferry did not indicate how many clients or candidates were affected by this incident.

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