The 10 Worst Data Breaches of 2013

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NSA’s Spying Program, MUSCULAR

The details of the NSA’s spying program, MUSCULAR, disclosed by Edward Snowden, may prove to have the greatest impact of any breach in 2013. According to J.J. Thompson, managing director and CEO of Rook Security, the MUSCULAR program involved intercepting data from Yahoo and Google private clouds where the data is unencrypted. The data collected included email, pictures, video, text documents, spreadsheets, and an array of other similar file types. And as Zack Whittaker pointed out in a ZDNet article:

In efforts to get "free access" to the traffic that flows between data centers, the NSA had to "circumvent gold standard security measures," according to the [Washington] Post.

With this new revelation, Google has taken a considerably stronger stance against the NSA’s spying programs, Thompson stated, adding:

And, along with Microsoft, has begun encrypting its internal network traffic. These and other major tech companies are using every resource at their disposal to fight the NSA including public relations and lobbying efforts. It is likely the greatest level of national attention ever paid to a security incident.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, as of December 3, 558 breaches have been reported in 2013, and we still have nearly a full month left for more potential breaches. These breaches hit across industries; no one is immune. In late November, BitSight Technologies released a report that investigated how well specific industries were doing in their security efforts. According to the survey, the financial industry has performed the best when it comes to security effectiveness.

At the bottom of the list was the technology industry.

Not surprisingly, a number of the worst security breaches of 2013 happened within the tech industry. In fact, when asked to list the top security breaches of the past year, security experts overwhelmingly named the Adobe breach, followed closely by the more recent Pony botnet attack that focused on companies like Google and Facebook.

One of the more surprising breaches named by experts was former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the extent of the U.S. intelligence community’s Internet surveillance. The data breach was significant for many reasons, starting with what was revealed: pervasive signals intelligence, subversion of encryption standards, collaboration with overseas intelligence communities and many other bombshells.

Other breaches were more predictable, involving stolen devices or phishing scams. Many of the breaches are blamed on foreign hackers and cyber criminals. But the end result is that all of these breaches caused significant damage to businesses and customers. As Costin Raiu, director, Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab, stated:

We predicted 2012 to be revealing and 2013 to be eye opening. That forecast proved correct – 2013 showed that everybody is in the same boat. In truth, any organization or person can become a victim. Not all attacks involve high profile targets, or those involved in ‘critical infrastructure’ projects.  Those who hold data could be of value to cybercriminals, or they can be used as a ‘stepping-stones’ to reach other targets.

Here is a list of the worst data breaches of 2013.

 

Related Topics : Litigation, Consultants, Digital Rights Management, Environmental Regulations, External and Internal Audits

 
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