LONDON, U.K. - A massive cyberattack is revealed to have affected one of the world’s “big four” accountancy firms, Deloitte, and hackers are said to be accessed usernames, passwords and personal details the firm’s blue-chip clients.
The hack, first revealed in a Guardian report stated that the sophisticated hack even compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its clients.
Further, it noted that Deloitte was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that went unnoticed for months.
Deloitte, which reported a record $37 billion revenue last year, provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the world’s biggest companies - including banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and U.S. government agencies.
According to the report, the company’s clients across all of these sectors had material in the company email system that was breached.
The report also pointed out that while Deloitte’s internal review into the incident is ongoing, so far, six of its clients have been told their information was “impacted” by the hack.
It stated that Deloitte discovered the hack in March this year - however, it said it is believed the attackers may have had access to its systems since October or November of last year.
The firm’s global email server was hacked, reportedly through an “administrator’s account” that gave them privileged, unrestricted “access to all areas.”
Sources quoted in the report claimed that the account used required only a single password and did not have “two-step“ verification.
Along with the emails, the report stated that hackers also had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information.
Some emails even had attachments with sensitive security and design details.
It noted that the breach was believed to have been U.S. focussed and was codenamed ‘Windham’ by insiders.
So far, the internal review is yet to establish whether the hacking was led by a lone wolf, business rivals or state-sponsored hackers.
An estimated 5 million emails could have been accessed by the hackers but Deloitte claimed that the number of emails that were at risk was a fraction of this number.
A Deloitte spokesman said in a statement, “In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilising a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte. As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators.”
The spokesman added, “The review has enabled us to understand what information was at risk and what the hacker actually did, and demonstrated that no disruption has occurred to client businesses, to Deloitte’s ability to continue to serve clients, or to consumers. We remain deeply committed to ensuring that our cybersecurity defences are best in class, to investing heavily in protecting confidential information and to continually reviewing and enhancing cybersecurity. We will continue to evaluate this matter and take additional steps as required.”
Adding, “Our review enabled us to determine what the hacker did and what information was at risk as a result. That amount is a very small fraction of the amount that has been suggested.”