A Case Study: Dealing with Data Breaches and Malicious Actors

When auditing a website that was behind on updates, we discovered a data breach where at least one malicious actor had accessed one of the servers powering the platform, exfiltrating data stored within that environment.

We worked with the company and several third-party partners to immediately assess the situation at a deeper level. This involved several security scans by an experienced third-party threat assessment company, internal review and preparation of various documentation for the client by CauseLabs, and working in tandem with another third-party firm to provide remediation and other security-related services in order to address this data breach.

Dealing with data breaches. A man on a computer.

Data Breach Remediation

In the end, we were successful in remediating the problem, upgrading both the live production environment alongside the staging “test” environment at the same time to new, more modern server configurations. We worked in collaboration with our third-party partners to implement, test, and confirm the latest security practices that should be in place to help prevent unauthorized access to a more stringent, compliant platform like this which also relies upon third-party cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

This led to an upgrade of the aging codebase for the platform from the then-outdated Laravel 5.5 framework to the latest Laravel 9.x framework, which powers the back end of the application.  We also performed a “hybrid” upgrade from the existing Vue 2.x framework on the front end to the newer Vue 3.x framework to allow us to make use of the latest security updates available through the newer framework release, while also giving us access to the more recent framework features when we’re ready to make use of them.

The cost of a data breach goes beyond monetary measures. However, cost alone warrants proactive planning. Retroactively updating the entire code base was costly and time-consuming and highlighted the importance of working with a trusted partner to keep your website code updated.

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