Posts tagged "data security breaches"
It's no secret that the U.S. is currently vulnerable to a debilitating online attack. But many top IT security professionals have predicted that something catastrophic is coming – and it could happen in 2013.
It sounds kind of silly – the sort of phrase used to make these dramatic events even more sensational. But it's a real threat, and it skewered our gas pipeline systems repeatedly last year, as infiltrators scoured for information and wreaked all sorts of structural havoc. And that could be just the beginning.
Before the parade of high-profile hacks of the last few weeks, industry experts were already foreseeing a huge cyber security disaster. In January, the conference of the Information Systems Security Association sent a survey to IT gurus asking about the current strength of American online safety. Without specifying exactly which kind of disaster would occur, members of the conference were asked if they thought a major act of cyberterrorism could happen soon. The results were chilling, though unsurprising for anyone who's been paying attention: 79 percent of those surveyed said that a significant attack on our infrastructure will occur this year, and nearly 60 percent believed the government should step up and make more of an effort to keep Americans safe.
So far, 2013 has been the Year of the Hack, as the past few weeks have proven positively lousy with big-name security breaches.
Social networks, news outlets, and now…jeeps and fast food? That’s right, recent events have seen two prominent businesses get their Twitter accounts hacked, and worse. Not only did identity pirates shanghai the feeds (and therefore the reputations) of Burger King and Jeep, they used this illegal access to send embarrassing and scandalous messages to their followers.
Last Monday, @BurgerKing began tweeting that it had been sold to McDonalds, changing its image to a golden arches logo and posting ridiculous, wildly provocative comments about rappers and mad cow disease. The same thing happened to Jeep the next day, when its account claimed it had been sold to Cadillac and that its CEO had been fired for doing drugs.
Viruses are the biological weapons of the internet: once someone gets infected, it's only a matter of time before the contagion starts to spread. Even a social media giant like Facebook isn't immune to the kinds of digital "superbugs" that cause data security breaches.
You would think that corporate titans – with their advanced defenses – would be most immune to the effects of malware, but the reality is that the bigger the service provider, the more vulnerable it can be to hackers and cybercriminals. Recently, we saw Twitter get hit with a massive hack that targeted the data of a quarter-million people. Now, Facebook has been victimized by a vicious strain of software.
Last Friday, Facebook security posted a statement on its blog detailing what it called a "sophisticated attack" on its system that occurred in January.
Quick! Name a major international newspaper that wasn’t hacked last week. It might be harder than you think.
Last Wednesday, The New York Times announced on its front page that it had been hacked over the course of four months by state-sponsored cyber criminals in China. The Times said that Bloomberg News had also recently been targeted. The following day, The Wall Street Journal said it too had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers. Next up was the Associated Press, acknowledging similar data security breaches.
According to The Times, it was breached thanks to a spear-phishing attack, at which point the hackers uploaded an array of malware to the company network and started stealing email passwords of reporters, editors and other employees.
This all stems from an October 2012 story written in the paper about the family of the Chinese prime minister quietly amassing a multi-billion-dollar fortune in recent years. Apparently, they were looking for sources used in the investigation that might be revealed in the email accounts of Times reporters and editors.
About 250,000 Twitter accounts may have been hacked last week. Was yours one of them?
On Friday, the company announced via its official blog that it has reset the passwords for those users after a breach was detected in which email addresses, usernames and encrypted password data may have been accessed by hackers.
The blog post was quick to point out that other companies such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have recently fallen victim to data security breaches as well, though those attacks appear to have been state-sponsored (check back here tomorrow for more on those breaches).
There has been no indication as of yet that the infiltration of Twitter was related to those incidents. However, Bob Lord, the company’s director of information security and author of the blog post, said he does not believe this was an isolated event, and that the attack was sophisticated and not “not the work of amateurs.”