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Earlier this year, threat actors infiltrated Mailchimp, the popular SaaS email marketing platform. They viewed over 300 Mailchimp customer accounts and exported audience data from 102 of them. The breach was preceded by a successful phishing attempt and led to malicious attacks against Mailchimp’s customers’ end users.

Three months later, Mailchimp was hit with another attack. Once again, an employee’s account was breached following a successful phishing attempt.

While the identity of the Mailchimp accounts that had been compromised wasn’t released, it’s easy to see how user permission settings could have played a role in the attack. Once threat detectors breached the system, they had the access needed to utilize an internal tool that enabled them to find the data they were looking for. The attack ended when security teams were able to terminate user access, although data which had already been downloaded remained in the threat actor’s hands.

Introducing user permissions, through role-based account control (RBAC), could have severely limited the damage caused by the breach. Had the rule of least privilege been applied, it’s likely that the breached account would not have afforded access to the internal tools that were used in the attack. Furthermore, reduced access might have completely prevented the attack or limited the number of affected accounts to far fewer than the 100 which were ultimately compromised.

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images from Hacker News