Amazon notified customers and law enforcement of the insider-threat incident this week.
Amazon has fired an employee who shared customers’ names and email addresses with a third party.
An Amazon spokesperson told Threatpost that it has systems in place to limit and control access to information, and processes in place for identifying and investigating suspicious behavior. These systems notified Amazon of “suspicious behavior.” After the company investigated the incident, it fired the employee, referred them to law enforcement and is working with law enforcement in their criminal prosecution.
“No other information related to your account was shared,” according to the note, shared on Twitter by several Amazon customers. “This is not a result of anything you have done and there is no need for you to take any action. We apologize for this incident.”
Amazon did not comment on an inquiry from Threatpost asking how many customers were impacted, and what the role of the Amazon employee was.
— Zain Jaffer (@zainjaffer) October 24, 2020
“It is critical for businesses to recognize that threats from legitimate users have always been more elusive and harder to detect or prevent than traditional external threats,” said Orion Cassetto, director of product marketing at Exabeam, in an emailed statement. “Though the extent of the leak is currently unknown, a number of Amazon customers have been notified that their email addresses have been passed on to a third-party by an employee, which has resulted in their termination. Organizations must be armed with the tools to prevent threats from within their walls from launching attacks.”
Researchers for their part say that a combination of training, organizational alignment and technology can help companies prevent insider threats. Behavioral analytics tools are one type preventative technology that tracks, collects and analyzes user data to detect threats, said Cassetto.
“This is typically done by collecting data over a period of time to understand what normal user behavior looks like, then flagging behavior that does not fit that pattern,” said Cassetto. “It can often spot unusual online behaviors – credential abuse, unusual access patterns, large data uploads – that are telltale signs of insider threats. More importantly, it can often spot these unusual behaviors among compromised insiders long before criminals have gained access to critical systems.”
Insider threats continue to plague tech companies. Last year, Trend Micro said that a rogue employee sold the data of 68,000 customers to a malicious third party, who then used that data to target customers with scam calls. In May 2019, a report outlined how Snap employees were abusing their access to private user data – which includes location data, saved Snaps and phone numbers. And a report in 2018 found that Facebook had fired an employee who allegedly abused access privileges to data to stalk women.