Real-Case Analysis #16: Millions of Drivers' Data Stolen by Hackers

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June 9, 2024
2 min

Real-Case Analysis #16: Millions of Drivers' Data Stolen by Hackers

A major cybersecurity incident occurred in Spain in May 2024 when hackers gained access to the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) database, stealing millions of drivers' personal information.


  • The breach, which is regarded as one of the biggest in Spain's history, revealed almost 34.4 million drivers' personal information.
  • It occurred in the first half of May 2024. Beginning on May 13, 2024, the hackers sold the stolen data on a number of deep web platforms.

Overview of the Data Breach

Information on vehicles and personal identities was stolen from the DGT database as part of the data breach. Names, ID numbers, addresses, car information (including license plates, type, make, and model), and insurance details are among the stolen data.

The sources that are now available don't go into detail on the precise technique the hackers used to get into the DGT database. Nonetheless, the fact that the hackers were able to access the database without authorization is known, which raises the possibility of cybersecurity flaws in the DGT. When suspected users tried to access the database, the DGT discovered the breach and blocked the users, reporting them to the Guardia Civil.

The first part of May 2024 saw the cyberattack. After thereafter, on May 13, 2024, the stolen data was put up for sale on a number of deep web marketplaces. It took the DGT two weeks to identify suspicious activities and block the unauthorized users before the incident was made public on May 31, 2024.

The perpetrators' precise identities are still unknown. The DGT database was accessible by the hackers, who went by the username "PeTu" on BreachForums and made it available for purchase. Given that the stolen data is being sold to the highest bidder on deep web platforms, financial motivations are probably motivating the hack.

Impact Analysis

Data Privacy and Identity Theft Risks

Personal information that is highly sensitive is among the stolen data. Cybercriminals can profit significantly from this data, which they can use for financial fraud, phishing scams, identity theft, and other illicit activities. Due to the possible exploitation of their personal data, affected individuals may be at serious risk of suffering from emotional pain, financial losses, and reputational harm.

Regulatory and Legal Consequences

Data protection laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union are probably broken by this incident. If the DGT and pertinent authorities don't sufficiently protect personal data, they could be subject to severe consequences and fines. A corporation may be fined up to €20 million or 4% of its yearly worldwide revenue, whichever is higher, under the GDPR. In addition, because of the breach's effect on their privacy and possible financial losses, impacted parties might be able to sue the DGT for damages and compensation.

Increased Cybersecurity Risks and Costs

The DGT and other government organizations will probably need to spend a lot of money improving their cybersecurity protocols in the wake of this breach. This include improving employee training and awareness initiatives, setting up stronger access restrictions and data encryption, modernizing security systems and infrastructure, and carrying out thorough security audits and risk assessments. Significant financial resources and operational interruptions will result from these actions.

National Security Implications

Although it doesn't seem that any sensitive government material is included in the stolen data, the scope and character of this breach raise questions about how vulnerable vital infrastructure and systems could be to cyberattacks. Threats to national security could arise from hostile actors, including state-sponsored organizations, using these weaknesses for sabotage, espionage, or other illicit activities.

Lessons Learned

Following the massive cyberattack on the main database of the country's Directorate-General for Traffic, here are the lessons learned:

Importance of Robust Cybersecurity Measures

The breach highlights how important it is to have strong cybersecurity measures in place to protect sensitive data. To protect their databases against illegal access, organizations need to put in place robust security measures, such as multi-factor authentication, strong encryption, and frequent security audits.

Early Detection and Response

Two weeks prior to the breach's public disclosure, the DGT discovered suspicious activity, which emphasizes the significance of early threat identification and prompt action. To detect and mitigate cyberattacks before they cause major data breaches, real-time threat detection technologies and continuous monitoring are essential.

Employee Training and Awareness

Cybercriminals frequently take advantage of vulnerabilities such as human error and ignorance. Frequent training sessions can greatly lower the risk of breaches by teaching staff members about cybersecurity best practices, such as identifying phishing attempts and creating secure passwords.

Third-Party Risk Management

The DGT breach highlights the risks of using third-party vendors, as do other recent hacks on significant Spanish corporations like Telefónica, Iberdrola, and Banco del Santander. Businesses need to make sure that their outside partners follow strict cybersecurity guidelines and perform routine assessments to find and fix any vulnerabilities.

Data Minimization and Access Control

Unauthorized access can be avoided by restricting access to sensitive data to those who truly need it and by routinely checking and updating access permissions. Data minimization techniques, such keeping only the information that is required and safely deleting out-of-date data, may reduce the effect of possible breaches.