The 10 Worst Data Breaches of 2013

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Pony Botnet

Even though the Pony botnet was first announced in early December, many security experts include it among the worst breaches of 2013. The botnet is responsible for the theft of 2 million passwords and user names from a number of different locations, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. According to CNN:

The massive data breach was a result of keylogging software maliciously installed on an untold number of computers around the world, researchers at cybersecurity firm Trustwave said. The virus was capturing login credentials for key websites over the past month and sending those usernames and passwords to a server controlled by the hackers.

According to Trustwave’s SpiderLab blog, while it looks like the attack came from the Netherlands, it is more likely that the Netherlands IP is a gateway or proxy for the infected machines. The security company believes that nearly 100 countries were hit by Pony, and that may make this breach, if not the largest in number of compromised accounts, the most international. If nothing else, the Pony botnet breach shows that way too many people are still using simple “12345” passwords.

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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