The 10 Worst Data Breaches of 2013

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California-Based AHMC Hospitals Breach from Laptop Theft

Not all of the breaches were due to highly skilled hackers or government negligence. Sometimes terrible breaches happen because of low-tech carelessness.

In October, more than 729,000 patients were put in jeopardy when two unencrypted laptops were stolen from California-based AHMC hospitals. Private patient information, including patient names, Social Security numbers and diagnostic and procedure codes, was compromised in the theft, affecting six major health institutions overall. According to Darren Leroux, WinMagic senior director of product marketing, it took this breach for an encryption policy to be put into place at the AHMC hospital network. He said:

The damage had already been done and if you’re a person that was at risk because the data has been stolen, that’s a pretty scary situation. That health system had to answer to the people whose information was exposed and deal with the reputation and financial implications of such an event, something that could’ve been easily prevented by having a data encryption policy in place. Full disk encryption should be the foundation of any device security.

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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