The Most Memorable Security Breaches of 2013
This year may go down as the year of Internet security breaches. After all, it was only this year that people began to look over their shoulders at the National Security Agency (NSA). However, the NSA wasn’t responsible for all of the year’s most memorable security breaches. Below is an outline of some of the most memorable security breaches of 2013.
The Winners (or Losers?):
Adobe: August 2013 was a rough time for Adobe. Not only was the tech giant’s security breached, but it became the center of rippling breaches around the Internet. Adobe didn’t just mess up a little—they full-blown goofed. More than 38 million active user passwords were stolen and up to 150 million users were put at risk when email addresses and password hints were leaked. The security at Adobe was so rampantly ravaged that it wasn't just passwords that were compromised—source code from a handful of Adobe products was stolen, too. This allowed malware writers to very effectively program viruses against any software that incorporated aspects of Adobe.
Adobe just couldn’t catch a break after the US Department of Energy was hacked in July. More than a hundred thousand employees' and contractors’ personal information was leaked due to an Adobe flaw. Overall: a rough year for Adobe.
Edward Snowden and the NSA: The former NSA contractor showed the world just how invasive the Internet surveillance being done by the US intelligence community actually was. Snowden’s leak revealed much more than the undermining of encryption guidelines, omnipresent signals intelligence, and relationships with foreign intelligence communities—it showed how unorganized and foolish the US government was with the protection of their top-security information.
Also stemming from Snowden’s leaks came the revelation of the existence of the NSA’s spying program, MUSCULAR, which was intercepting data from the private clouds of Yahoo and Google. The information included videos, text documents, pictures, and emails.
Syrian Electronic Army (SEA): The self-titled “hacktivists” took to social media and the Internet to fulfill their organizational agenda. The Washington Post, NPR, and The New York Times were among the victims of the SEA’s public defacement. But the most memorable attack was on The Associated Press’s Twitter handle. After the Twitter account was hacked, it posted a tweet that President Barack Obama had been attacked. The tweet is believed to be the root of a 136 billion-dollar plummet in the stock market.
AHMC Hospitals: About 729,000 patients had their personal information, Social Security numbers, and medical records exposed after two laptops were stolen from the California-based AHMC Healthcare Inc. offices. The scope of the breach wasn’t as intense as others, but it did prove to be a huge wake-up call that full-disk encryption should be everyone’s priority.
Data-Broker Botnet: Several data aggregator companies like LexisNexis had their servers compromised by botnet software.
Living Social: Although the ramifications weren’t as heavy as many of the breaches or leaks on this list, the breach of Living Social’s encrypted passwords was one of the first major breaches of a popular consumer site.
Early Front-Runner for 2014:
Pony Botnet: A large botnet using controller software nicknamed “Pony” gained access to computers around the world this month. The malware then spread to more than a hundred countries, and now more than two million passwords and usernames from payroll processor ADP and popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo have been stolen. The extent of the Pony botnet breach has not been fully explored, but it’s expected to be a very memorable security break once the full effects are realized in early 2014.
Which security breach was the most memorable for you? Have theses breaches affected you? Tell us below.