U.S. Agency for Global Media data breach caused by a phishing attack


The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has disclosed a data breach that exposed the personal information of current and former employees and their beneficiaries.

USAGM is a US government agency whose mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” USAGM operates broadcast networks, such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks, to deliver news and information to people worldwide.

In a data breach notification shared with BleepingComputer by former Voice of America White House correspondent Dan Robinson, USAGM discloses that they suffered a data breach after falling for a phishing attack in December 2020.

This phishing attack allowed a threat actor to access an agency email account containing the personal information of current and former USAGM, Voice of America, and Office of Cuba Broadcasting employees who worked at the agency between 2013 and 2020.

The exposed information includes full names and Social Security numbers of employees and possibly their beneficiaries and dependents.

Data breach notification sent by USAGM

USAGM states that they secured the affected account once they learned of the breach and began providing phishing education to staff members. They also sped up their rollout of multifactor authentication (MFA) for the agency’s Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive accounts.

While USAGM is offering a free one-year subscription to Experian IdentityWorks, this may have come too late.

Robinson told BleepingComputer that he learned that the letters were sent to current employees on April 13th, 2021, four months after the bad actor accessed the data.

This long delay could have given the threat actor time to perform further phishing attacks or identity theft on those exposed in the data breach.

Affected people should watch out for potential phishing scams utilizing the stolen data and warn their family members to be on the lookout as well.

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