Secure Your Network: Learning from Capital One

A 33-year-old woman recently accessed Capital One’s customer data and shared that data on a popular code-sharing website. As data breaches continue to happen almost daily, your organization should understand how breaches occur and proactively prevent unauthorized access to your user’s data.

The Problem: Unauthorized Access to Your Network and Data

Capital One reported unauthorized access to their network in July 2019 that compromised 140,000 social security numbers and roughly 80,000 linked bank accounts. The company was informed of a vulnerability in its network by an external security researcher and launched an investigation. Two days after starting their investigation, Capital One discovered the data breach.

Joseph Cortese, a Penetration Testing Practice Lead at A-LIGN, believes the news of data breaches has become all too familiar and that there is a lack of proper cybersecurity in large organizations.

“These organizations are a target for the large treasure trove of information they hold,” Joseph said in response to the news of the Capital One breach. “They should continuously be aware that they are a target and regularly monitor that environment for any changes.”

Joseph believes the data breach occurred due to several factors:

  • A misconfigured firewall in the network
  • Lack of two-factor authentication for access to secure zones
  • The network could be accessed remotely so easily

The Solution: Monitor the Environment and Test for Vulnerabilities

Joseph says that a tripwire setup could have monitored firewall configurations and reported when unauthorized access was made in Capital One’s network. “This setup would have continuously monitored configurations and triggered an alert when a change was detected. This is a common monitoring method organizations use to monitor their firewalls closely.”

Secure organizations could also separate secure zones with access rules and two-factor authentication that would not allow outgoing connections from within any secure zone. Organizations should employ continuous monitoring and regular penetration testing to form a complete cybersecurity plan.

Identify Vulnerabilities through Penetration Testing

Capital One discovered the data breach had occurred after finding a vulnerability in their network working with an external security researcher. By attempting to identify gaps in your organization’s security through, for example, penetration testing, you lower the risk of a data breach.

“Penetration testing services evaluate if your network configuration is in a secure state by simulating unauthorized access to your network,” Joseph recommends. You can identify vulnerabilities in your network before the bad guys do by testing the information security of the technologies and systems in place at your organization, mitigating the risk of a data breach.

Secure Your Network with A-LIGN

A-LIGN’s penetration testers develop scenarios and strategies to breach your organization’s network, in turn identifying where hackers could access your user’s data. A-LIGN’s penetration test can include:

  • Network Layer Testing
  • Mobile Application Testing
  • Web Application Testing
  • Wireless Network Testing


Want to secure your organization and reduce the chance of a data breach? Contact the experts at A-LIGN at [email protected] or 888.702.5446 to schedule penetration testing.