Breach, Threat Management, Data Security

Woman accused of hacking Capital One indicted for alleged cyber intrusions, cryptojacking


A federal grand jury in Seattle yesterday indicted alleged Capital One data thief Paige Thompson in relation to a series of breaches and cryptojacking attacks that victimized more than 30 different companies.

The indictment alleges that Thompson, 33, created a software program that identifies web application firewall misconfigurations while scanning the publicly-facing portion of servers used by customers of a specific cloud computing services company. The cloud computer company is almost certainly Amazon Web Services, considering that Thompson (aka "erratic") was a former AWS employee, and reports at the time of Thompson's arrest last July stated that Capital One's compromised files were hosted on AWS S3 servers.

According to the DOJ, Thompson leveraged the WAF misconfigurations to send commands to the AWS servers that would allow her to obtain credentials for particular user accounts. These credentials allegedly gave her access to additional sensitive data belonging to the AWS customers -- data she is accused of copying to her own server. Thompson allegedly also engaged in illicit cryptocurrency mining by drawing from the compromised servers' processing power, and she allegedly attempted to conceal her location and identity by using virtual private networks and Tor.

In addition to Capital One, Thompson's alleged victims include a U.S. state agency, an American public research university and a foreign telecom conglomerate, the DOJ notes in a press release. The agency did not any affected organizations outside of Capital One, but did note that the activity that impacted these and other organizations took place from March through July 2019.

Discovered on July 17, the Capital One breach compromised the personal information of 100 million of the bank holding company's credit card customers and applicants. Thompson has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of computer fraud and abuse, which collectively could result in a 25-year prison term.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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