How will the 2.5 Million Data Breach Affect Student Loan Relief?

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on December 12, 2022

The Capital One Data Breach is No Exception & Why We Can Expect Many, Many  More

In the summer of 2022, over 2.5 million student loan accounts were compromised in a data breach, according to a notification from the Maine Attorney General. The target of the breach was Nelnet Servicing, a provider of servicing systems and web portals for the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority (OSLA) and EdFinancial.

An investigation has revealed that intruders accessed student loan account registration information between June and July 2022. The stolen data includes names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, and social security numbers for 2,501,324 student loan account holders. Nelnet has stated that the breach did not expose users’ financial information. It is currently unclear how the breach occurred or who was responsible for the attack.

According to reports, the OSLA security team detected suspicious activity and launched an investigation with the help of forensic experts. The lender has also notified law enforcement agencies. Some are concerned about the potential impact of this incident on student loan borrowers.

Potential Future Threat to Student Loan Holders

In August 2022, President Biden announced a comprehensive student loan relief plan that would impact millions of borrowers. While the implementation of the plan is currently on hold due to a legal challenge, the information stolen in the OSLA / Nelnet breach could still be used by nefarious actors to take advantage of the loan forgiveness program. For example, they could use stolen emails to contact borrowers and trick them into providing sensitive information or access to their bank accounts through social engineering or phishing scams. This highlights the potential dangers of data breaches and the need for vigilance on the part of borrowers.

Was it a Credential Hack?

The details of the OSLA breach are still unclear, but it appears that the Nelnet web portal was involved in the incident. This suggests that stolen login credentials may have provided access to the system. This is a common method used by attackers to breach systems. With more and more work being done remotely and in the cloud, it is increasingly difficult to secure networks and prevent breaches.

Unfortunately, attacks like this are becoming increasingly common. One report found that 83% of surveyed organizations had experienced more than one data breach, and 45% of the incidents studied were cloud-based. The average total cost of a data breach has reached $4.35 million. These statistics highlight the importance of taking steps to prevent and mitigate the effects of data breaches.

Security Against Data Breach

The widespread use of the cloud and remote work has led to the development of new access security solutions. For example, single sign-on allows for centralized access control, strong authentication, and user self-service. Additional security layers, such as multifactor authentication or passwordless access, can be applied to data and applications to provide further protection.

Adaptive access is another effective security tool that continuously evaluates user risk for higher accuracy. This approach uses machine learning and AI to analyze key parameters such as user, device, activity, environment, and behavior. This allows adaptive access to use context to determine holistic risk scores and make more accurate, contextual authentication decisions to improve security.

The OSLA / Nelnet breach is not an isolated incident; data breaches are becoming increasingly common. It is important for organizations to take steps to protect themselves and their customers from these types of attacks. This can include implementing security measures such as single sign-on, adaptive access, and multifactor authentication.

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