Anatomy of a High-Profile Data Breach: Dissecting the Aftermath of a Crypto-Wallet Case


Svetlana Abramova and Rainer Böhme, Universität Innsbruck


Media reports show an alarming increase of data breaches at providers of cybersecurity products and services. Since the exposed records may reveal security-relevant data, such incidents cause undue burden and create the risk of re-victimization to individuals whose personal data gets exposed. In pursuit of examining a broad spectrum of the downstream effects on victims, we surveyed 104 persons who purchased specialized devices for the secure storage of crypto-assets and later fell victim to a breach of customer data. Our case study reveals common nuisances (i.e., spam, scams, phishing e-mails) as well as previously unseen attack vectors (e.g., involving tampered devices), which are possibly tied to the breach. A few victims report losses of digital assets as a form of the harm. We find that our participants exhibit heightened safety concerns, appear skeptical about litigation efforts, and demonstrate the ability to differentiate between the quality of the security product and the circumstances of the breach. We derive implications for the cybersecurity industry at large, and point out methodological challenges in data breach research.

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@inproceedings {291239,
author = {Svetlana Abramova and Rainer B{\"o}hme},
title = {Anatomy of a {High-Profile} Data Breach: Dissecting the Aftermath of a {Crypto-Wallet} Case},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {715--732},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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