In mid-December 2023, Verizon discovered that a file containing personal information on 63,206 employees had been breached in September 2023, months after the incident occurred.

The company did not alert impacted employees until weeks later in late January 2024.

Verizon termed the transgression as “insider wrongdoing”. In a letter sent to the employees, the carrier said data in the file could include name, address, social security number or other national identifier, gender, union affiliation, date of birth, and compensation data. The company said that there is no indication the information has been misused or shared outside of Verizon. The carrier is providing affected staff with identity protection and credit monitoring services for two years.

Verizon settlement

The breach came just weeks after Verizon reached a $4.1m settlement with the US federal government for failing to meet cybersecurity standards for which it was contracted.

The suit alleged that Verizon service delivered to several federal agencies did not meet three cybersecurity controls as required in contracts from 2017 to 2021.  In 2020, Verizon “proactively identified and disclosed” to the General Services Administration there were possible issues around meeting those standards.  The company said there were no breaches or other security incidents related to those gaps. 

Hackers at large

Like other high-profile companies, Verizon is a popular target of malicious hackers.   In January 2023, personal information of 7.5 million Verizon wireless customers was posted on the Dark Web. The previous year, cybercriminals attempted to extort $250,000 from Verizon after gaining access to an employee database with information on hundreds of staff members.  At the time, the company said there was no sensitive personal information contained in the breached record. 

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During recent social engineering incidents at several large enterprises, hackers impersonated employees to gain access to systems. These incidents and those at Verizon serve as a cautionary tale.

All organizations should take care to educate staff on how to recognize such tactics and avoid being put in a compromising position.  An effective Zero Trust starts and ends with employee awareness and best practices in the workplace.