The Mother of All Breaches: What You Need to Know and How to Stay Safe

In an era where digital footprints are left everywhere, the recent unveiling of “The Mother of All Breaches” has sent shockwaves through the cybersecurity community. This extensive data breach, affecting platforms like LinkedIn, X (Twitter), and Dropbox, has compromised an unprecedented 26 billion records. Such a breach not only highlights the critical importance of digital risk protection but also underscores the ever-present threat of social engineering and the role of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) in cybersecurity.

You can read the full story about this massive data leak on Cybernews.

Understanding the Breach and Its Implications

The breach was brought to light by cybersecurity expert Bob Dyachenko of and the Cybernews team. They uncovered an enormous volume of records on an unprotected database. Initially, the database’s ownership was unclear until Leak-Lookup, a data breach search engine, identified itself as the custodian. The incident, attributed to a “firewall misconfiguration,” has been addressed.

The MOAB comprises 26 billion records across 3,800 folders, each folder representing a distinct breach. This scenario indicates a high likelihood of previously unseen data being among the exposed records. Threat actors conduct open source intelligence (OSINT) to identify and analyze human targets; breach data is the fuel that powers their social engineering attacks. It is believed that this massive data leak will most likely drive a surge in social engineering attacks. 

The Importance of Checking Data Exposure

Given the scale of internet usage, the probability of your own personal data being exposed in this breach is notably high. There are around 5 billion internet users worldwide, and 26 billion records were leaked. Regardless of how you decide to calculate the probability of being impacted, the result nears 100%. The severity of the impact on your organization will vary, as it depends on human risk: the perceived value of impacted individuals as well as their accessibility online. In any case, there will likely be a surge in bulk phishing that will increase noise levels at the SOC.

Immediate steps to identify the risks include:

  • Verifying Personal Exposure: Individuals should promptly check if their data has been compromised.
  • Organizational Impact Assessment: Organizations must evaluate the breach’s potential impact on their security operations and prepare for an increase in the number of incidents.

Strategic Recommendations for Mitigation

A proactive cybersecurity approach is essential, especially to shield those executives, employees, and contractors with access to critical systems and information. Recommendations include:

  • Identifying High-Value Targets: Pinpoint individuals with access to sensitive systems and information within your organization.
  • Risk Assessment: Evaluate the exposure of your workforce to the social engineering threat.
  • Enhancing Digital Security: Encourage employees to secure online profiles and adjust privacy settings to deter potential attackers.
With the expert contribution of dozens of renowned cybersecurity professionals, Picnic has developed and published a framework detailing how to protect the human attack surface of organizations. Titled “Human Attack Surface Protection Framework (HASP),” the paper is mapped to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and MITRE ATT&CK Framework. The document is free to download. It is a valuable contribution to organizations seeking to develop these capabilities on their own. Get it here:

Leveraging Security Through Obscurity

While asking for complete anonymity is unfeasible, reducing the available digital footprint of the likely human targets can significantly mitigate risk. A sound strategy involves:

  • External Perspective Analysis: Assess your organization’s digital footprint from an outsider’s viewpoint to identify potential vulnerabilities. Emulate attacker reconnaissance of your human attack surface.
  • Anticipating Attacker Behavior: Understand how attackers might plan their approach based on available data.
  • Predicting Attack Methods: Foresee potential social engineering tactics based on the digital footprints of high-value targets, your business processes and cadence, and your external attack surface.
  • Strengthening Defenses
    Key actions include:


“The Mother of All Breaches” is a potent reminder of the vulnerabilities inherent in our digital world. It emphasizes the importance of digital risk protection, the dangers of social engineering, and the role of OSINT in cybersecurity. By adopting a vigilant and proactive approach to digital security, we can safeguard our personal and organizational data against the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

About Picnic

Picnic’s Digital Risk Protection Services protect those executives, employees, and contractors that threat actors will consider high-value targets of social engineering attacks. Picnic uses its proprietary technology to identify and analyze human risk and deliver prioritized remediations proactively and continuously without any effort on the part of the customer. Learn how Picnic automatically protects against breached credential reuse by watching the video below.

Become a Subscriber to receive timely articles on human-centric security issues:

Scroll to Top