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The biggest IT security breaches of all time

While are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies.

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It seems that you don’t have to look very far these days to see the impact of security breaches on our lives. We all have anxieties about our information being stolen or passed on to other resources. But while are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies. And while it may be an oversight to think that it’s just smaller companies who have limited protection methods, just because their finances are limited. In fact, it’s the big companies that we’ve got to keep an eye on.

There have been so many security breaches in the last few years, and here are some of the biggest.

Yahoo!

This giant of a company announced in September 2016 that a couple of years prior that they were the victim of a data breach. This was the biggest in all of history. Over three billion accounts had been hacked, including the real names, dates of birth, as well as email addresses and telephone numbers of Yahoo! users. In fact, they were subject to breaches in 2013 as well as 2014, where 500 million users were compromised.

eBay

The king of online auction sites reported in May 2014 that 145 million users (all of them) had their names, addresses, and dates of birth, as well as encrypted passwords, hacked. As a result, eBay asked its customers to change their passwords, but luckily the financial details were stored separately and weren’t subject to the hack. The biggest retail business hack of all time did result in a decline in user activity. What can we learn from this? Well, if you are a retail business, having different details stored on different devices is a common sense approach to undertake. While a lot of us feel we are doing enough to protect our data, it clearly shows that sites like eBay aren’t immune to cyberterrorism. Make the most of your resources, and companies like ATB Technologies have a resource library that we can all make use of. The scariest aspect of this hack is that the perpetrators had inside access for 229 days! They did this by using the credentials of 3 employees. If this isn’t the lesson in changing your password regularly, then who knows what it is?

Heartland Payment Systems

In March 2008, 134 million credit cards details were exposed via SQL Injection. It wasn’t discovered until January 2009, when MasterCard and Visa notified the company of questionable transactions through accounts they had processed. The vulnerability many businesses faced with regards to SQL Injection was nothing new, and in fact, security analysts had been warning retailers for many years prior to the attack. SQL injection was the most commonplace form of attack of the time.

FriendFinder

Adult content and casual hookup websites are ground feed for hackers. And the FriendFinder network was subject to a hack in the middle of October 2016, where user details were being leaked out of cybercrime forums. It transpired that the password protection algorithm was a weak one, the SHA-1 hashing algorithm resulted in 99% of the hacked passwords. Overall, 412 million accounts were hacked.

MySpace

Confined to the past now, MySpace was the giant of social media over a decade ago. This hack was partly the result of users being able to find out that they could embed their own content on their page, and instead of fixing the problem, the administrators of MySpace allowed it to happen. Overall, 316 million accounts were compromised. Email addresses, as well as usernames and poor passwords, highlighted that the breach was typical of the mid-2000s, not least because of the references to Blink 182. Those were the days, eh?

Equifax

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax reported in September 2017 that a security breach took place from May until July! In total, 145 million users were affected by the security breach. While it’s not the largest of data breaches, the sensitive nature of information, from birth dates, social security numbers, and even driver license numbers could have resulted in many perpetrators committing fraud by posing as those users to set up agreements like mortgages, loans, or credit cards.

Target Stores

American retail giant Target had 110 million records hacked. This occurred during the post Thanksgiving shopping surge. In 2013, hackers had infected the payment card readers, resulting in them escaping with 40 million credit and debit card numbers. In addition to this, contact information had been compromised, with over 70 million customers names, addresses and telephone numbers stolen.

National Archive And Records Administration

It’s important to remember that not all data breaches are the result of criminals. In 2008, a hard drive at the NARA, containing the private information of 76 million American military veterans, was sent off to repair after it stopped working. Rather than being destroyed on site, a government contractor sent this drive out to be scrapped. However, it transpired that it was unclear as to whether the drive was destroyed or not. After an investigation, the NARA changed its policies relating to the destruction of storage devices containing sensitive information. While it’s argued that a data breach did not occur, the fact that the company changed its policies speaks volumes.

Home Depot

The result of infection at the point of sale systems in this hardware supply store in April or May of 2014, this resulted in customer credit and debit cards being stolen. The malware in question pretended to be an antivirus package. This was the largest steal of payment cards resulting from a direct attack on a company. Although luckily, this didn’t deter customers.

Anthem

This healthcare company admitted that in February 2015, 80 million records were stolen by hackers. The attack was a result of phishing emails that was sent to five employees. As is the typical setup of phishing scams, these employees downloaded Trojan software, resulting in the attackers obtaining passwords. This company is a parent of healthcare providers like Blue Shield, and the theft of millions of medical records was thought to be worth 10 times the amount of the credit card information.

Uber

In October 2016, the details of 57 million drivers were hacked via Uber engineers’ credentials from a GitHub account. Uber didn’t reveal this information until November 2017. Instead, the company tried to keep it under wraps and paid the hackers $100,000 to stop them releasing the data. This doesn’t seem to have deterred the businesses dominance over the taxi market.

Sony Pictures

One of the more famous in recent years, the staff at Sony Pictures Entertainment had their computer screens hijacked by a grinning skull. This was the result of a group called Guardians of Peace, threatening to release company information if certain demands were not met. Unpublished scripts, internal passwords, as well as emails and passports belonging to actors and internal workers, showed up on file sharing sites. In addition to this, four unreleased Sony movies were released, including the Seth Rogen vehicle The Interview (51% on Rotten Tomatoes!). In total, over $100 million of monetary damages were estimated as a result of this hack.

Pizza Hut

It’s not always the most straightforward of businesses that get hacked. This pizza chain revealed that its website and app were hacked in October 2017, resulting in personal information being compromised. It’s unclear how many customers were affected, but roughly 60,000 US customers have been reported as having had their billing information, including email addresses and delivery addresses, stolen.

Bupa

This British health insurance provider suffered a data breach in July 2017, not as a direct result of an external cyber criminal, but an employee. This Bupa worker copied and removed sensitive information, but no medical information was released. Although, names, dates of birth, and some minimal contact information were removed. In total, 500,000 customers were affected.

Wonga

This payday loan company was affected by 245,000 customers having extremely sensitive information, including bank account numbers, stolen. The company has not divulged where this took place, but this was the result of the company not realizing that data could be accessed externally until April 2017.

Nationwide Building Society

It seems that not even your money is safe. An unencrypted laptop was stolen from a company employee in this UK building society, compromising the personal information of 11 million customers! The Financial Services Authority fined Nationwide Building Society £980,000, which was the record for data loss penalty at the time, but it’s nice to know that your money is being well looked after, isn’t it?

This is a concern for every person in the world, from business owners to customers. While there’s only so much we can do to take our law into our own hands, this reinforces the notion that we’ve got to be on top of our form data, from passwords and email addresses. It’s important to get clued up in what you can do to protect your data, but, unfortunately, we need to trust those that are handling sensitive data. Instead, it’s best to refuse as much personal information as you can when filling out forms online. These are the biggest breaches of all time, and it’s a sign of the modern world.

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Technology

Is technology becoming too dangerous?

More to the point, have all the constant advancements in technology now made it too dangerous?

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Who doesn’t like getting their hands on some cool new tech? We all love it when a new and advanced smartphone comes out, or a cool app that lets you do things you’ve never been able to do before – even stuff like drones are super fun and exciting.

Technology has advanced to the point where regular people can easily hack into your computer or phone and steal loads of personal information.
IMAGE FROM PEXELS.COM

The technology whirlwind has taken the world by storm, and we’re seeing more and more developments each day. It’s come to the point where almost every aspect of your life is helped in some way by technology. Typically, we see this as a good thing, but, what if we threw a spanner in the works and looked at it as a negative? More to the point, have all the constant advancements in technology now made it too dangerous?

There are three main arguments afoot here; the dangers of trusting technology, the growing cyber threats, and this idea of artificial intelligence knowing a bit too much.

Humans are putting too much trust in technology

This first argument is all about lazy humans relying on technology to do things for them. The best example of this is in a car. Nowadays, people are trusting their cars to park for them, stop for them, or even full-on drive for them. Needless to say, this is potentially dangerous, and we already see car accidents as a result of technology. As the Dolman Law Group states, car accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injuries, and there are thousands of them every year. We’ve seen people in Tesla cars end up in fatal crashes because they were using autopilot and not focusing on the road. Even a more small-scale problem is people bumping into other cars when parking because they were too dependent on the parking sensors. Are we putting too much trust in technology, and is this dangerous? There is indeed an argument to say that this is the case.

The increased risk of cyber threats

Technology has advanced to the point where regular people can easily hack into your computer or phone and steal loads of personal information. You could be chatting to someone on Grindr, and they could easily be trying to get a little bit of personal info to gain access to all your sensitive online information. Many people have had money stolen thanks to cybercriminals, and the superfast technological advancements are making the online world a more dangerous place by the second.

Artificial Intelligence keeps on learning

Lastly, there’s the worry of AI learning too much information and getting to the point where it develops its own sentience and is no longer under human control. This isn’t something we need to worry about right now, but it’s a possibility many people – including Elon Musk – worry is on the horizon. Will technology get to the point where it can literally take over the world? Who knows…

So, is technology becoming too dangerous? There are definitely arguments here that will make you rethink how you look at technology. The biggest way to prevent tech from being a serious problem is to make sure it’s continuously being monitored, and we don’t depend on it too much.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Forget the kitties – cryptocelebrities are the latest blockchain money spinner

Isn’t there an easier way in this online world? Surely there’s something you can invest in that can’t get broken or stolen and doesn’t need to be kept wrapped in cotton wool. The world of cryptocurrency has exactly what you need – just invest in a virtual Kanye West or Angelina Jolie.

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Take a look in the financial press and you’ll see that while there’s the usual doom and gloom surrounding the economy, there are also more opportunities than ever to invest in unconventional ways. The phrase “alternative investments” is one that has become commonplace, and has come to be recognized as anything that tracks a little differently to the broader economy.

Having some alternative investments in your portfolio makes plenty of sense – it is a classic example of what our parents told us about not keeping all our eggs in one basket, and it has encouraged people in general to become far more savvy about investments. It has also led to some truly bizarre investment options.

What sort of alternative investments?

Before we get into the surreal world of cryptocelebrities, it’s worth thinking about some of the options that are growing in popularity but are less “out there.” Investments like gold and silver are becoming more popular among everyday investors due to their resilience in times of trouble and the ability to trade them simply online. The smartphone age has also brought the world of currency trading to the masses. Online tutorials give guidance on how to trade Forex successfully for beginners, and smartphone apps make it easy to set up an account and even get advice from a virtual stockbroker.

Also, when you buy something collectible that is going to increase in value, that’s a classic example of an alternative investment. We’ve seen investors choose to plough their money into classic cars, fine art and even bottles of vintage wine. Of course, that’s fine if you know what you are doing and have the right facilities. Otherwise, the car goes rusty and won’t start, the art gets damaged and some fool drinks or drops the wine.

Isn’t there an easier way in this online world? Surely there’s something you can invest in that can’t get broken or stolen and doesn’t need to be kept wrapped in cotton wool. The world of cryptocurrency has exactly what you need – just invest in a virtual Kanye West or Angelina Jolie.

The cryptocelebrities phenomenon does provide an interesting glimpse at some of the bizarre ways the new world of blockchain can be used. It will be an interesting space to watch, to see just what they come up with next.
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Welcome to the world of cryptocelebrities

The idea is a variation on the theme of cryptokitties, cute virtual kittens that you can buy, sell and even breed. All transactions are conducted in Ethereum and a new cryptokitty is “born” every 15 minutes. The game had all the necessary ingredients – it’s fun, it has the cute factor and the built-in limitations mean that there is scarcity, which drives up value. It was a resounding success, and one that almost brought the Ethereum network to a standstill last December.

But who wants a virtual kitty when you can have a virtual Ellie Goulding? It’s a bizarre question, but one to which the makers of cryptocelebrities are rapidly finding an answer.

The game is reminiscent of those football trading cards that the boys in the playground were so obsessed by in years gone by. When you buy a contract on a cryptocelebrity, it looks very much like one of those cards. But the point is, just like the celebrity, it is unique. There is only one Ellie Goulding, one Kanye West, one Donald Trump.

Unlike the cryptokitties, when you buy a cryptocelebrity, there is no guarantee it is yours for long. Every cryptocelebrity is available to buy if you’re willing to pay the price. And it will only increase in value.

Once you’ve purchased, let’s say, Jason Statham, for 0.8 ETH, he will show up with you as the owner. His card will also show his new price of, let’s say, 0.98 ETH. Anyone can buy him from you, and you will get most of the profits. If you’re desperate to hang on to him, and who can blame you, you can buy him back and the price will now be around 1.2 ETH. And so it goes on.

The cryptocelebrity contract shows a unique image of the celebrity, the current contract owner, the price at which the contract was bought and the new price at which the contract is now available. It also shows how many times the contract has been traded. Currently, the most-traded and highest-value contract is that of Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum. He’s been traded over 30 times and his contract value stands at over 20 ETH (£10,000).

A genuine investment?

It’s easy to see that cryptocelebrities offer an opportunity to make some quick money, but this also has the look of a pyramid scheme that will have a limited lifespan. By all means get in there, have a little fun and make a few trades, but for a sustainable investment, it would be wise to look elsewhere.

The cryptocelebrities phenomenon does, however, provide an interesting glimpse at some of the bizarre ways the new world of blockchain can be used. It will be an interesting space to watch, to see just what they come up with next.

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Technology

4 Potential avenues for the next social network

Looking at the general tech landscape, we have a few ideas as to what potential new social media could look like.

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Over the years, three things have become very clear about social networks. The first is that broadly speaking, they’re drastically altering our day-to-day lives and the ways in which we interact with one another. The second is that the big players – namely, Facebook and Twitter – have probably become too big to be displaced. Suffice it to say if Facebook can’t be defeated by a recent, massive privacy scandal (it’s rebounded completely since the Cambridge Analytica news went public), it’s probably going to stay on top. The third thing that’s become clear, however, is that entrepreneurs and developers will never stop trying to open up new avenues for social networking interest.

If we could predict exactly what these avenues might look like, we probably wouldn’t be writing about it – we’d be trying to make money off of the ideas. Nevertheless, looking at the general tech landscape, we have a few ideas as to what potential new social media could look like.

1. Platforms For Women

This is something we’d never have predicted a few years ago, particularly since so much of modern social media is specifically about interacting with the opposite sex and sparking relationships. However, there are also growing concerns about women being harassed or otherwise treated unfairly online, and one company has also raised the issue of women having to make “carefully curated social media presences.” To solve this problem, Maverick has emerged as a female-only social media platform daring girls to be their authentic selves. It’s a fascinating concept that could certainly catch on and inspire imitation.

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2. Social Gaming Platforms

Gaming is already quite social, but we wouldn’t really call games social networks just yet. Instead, think back to earlier internet days, and the kinds of arcade sites that would allow for usernames and chats. This feels like something an innovative company could bring back with a little more organization, either tapping into retro arcades (which have been made popular again by mobile devices) or even casino games. Players today can visit any mainstream casino site and find dozens of the most popular games, along with other people playing. There’s nothing to stop a developer from building on this idea to combine social interaction and gaming – something like a virtual version of an in-person arcade where people might hang out.

3. Mixed Reality Platforms

Perhaps the most obvious avenue for social media, though one there’s been surprisingly little buzz about, is mixed reality. Encompassing both VR and AR, this is a concept that would allow for a more visual component to social interaction online. In VR we could actually walk up and speak to digital versions of our friends or family members; in AR we could control avatars of ourselves moving about digitally rendered 3D communities. Neither idea would be quite so convenient as basic, text- and image-based social media, in that real-time interaction would be needed. But it’s still a very intriguing concept that someone, at some point, is going to get just right.

4. Alternate Reality Platforms

This is not merely the same thing as mixed reality, at least as we’re describing it. We’re referring instead to an idea that was posted about at an Irish tech site, known as UHIVE. It’s actually a little bit tricky to grasp (it uses the blockchain to design a social media platform), but the interesting thing is that it comes packed with two worlds: the Civilized World and The Grey World. The former is essentially a version of an ordinary social network: you are yourself, you interact with real friends, there are social norms, etc. The Grey World, however, is an obscure, alternate reality that, as the write-up says, has successfully revived anonymity for users. It is, by the sound of things, a bit of a free-for-all for creative energy and anonymous social browsing. This sort of balance, between real and artificial social spaces, is something that could certainly catch on.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Types of women that should be avoided on dating websites

It is a common belief that fraudsters are mostly men. It is a myth that suggests a brutal unshaven man in a stocking over his head, sitting in front of his laptop and monitoring unprotected victims. However, female users of dating websites can also be dangerous in these terms. So it is a good idea to be aware of what users should be avoided.

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Dating websites are a nice option both for just having fun and communicating, and for finding a partner to start romantic relationships. There are numerous dating websites, offering different services, modes and options, to provide an outstanding experience to the users. Many people use such services for their own reasons, whether it is finding an affair, finding a potential family, or finding like-minded people to chat with.

One of the most popular options is video dating chat because it allows to communicate more directly and, if the person is looking towards relationship, to identify whether you like the person or not much faster than it is possible in messengers. However, even video chat cannot guarantee that you are talking just to a random stranger, not the user who has registered for a purpose and is searching ways to carry out a fraud.

It is a common belief that fraudsters are mostly men. It is a myth that suggests a brutal unshaven man in a stocking over his head, sitting in front of his laptop and monitoring unprotected victims. However, female users of dating websites can also be dangerous in these terms. So it is a good idea to be aware of what users should be avoided.

Female Users That Should Be Avoided

There are different types of users lurking on dating websites, looking for naive people who will send them some money, or those who does not protect their data properly. So, if you meet a user, whether it is male or female, always make sure that none of your sensitive data like passwords or emails or something of that kind are available to him or her.

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If you chat via the webcam, make sure you remove your bank cards from the table.

Also, try to use VPN to hide your IP, if you are not sure you want the other person to know your location.

For the purpose of this article, the reason why female users may be specifically tricky in communication is that there are some users who really hook men with their “top model” appearance and then start asking some expensive presents, or small sums of money to pay for this and that, but on a regular basis. It is notable that some of them do that just for love of the game, while others make it their full-time job and earn their living.

With this in mind, therefore, it is a good idea to be very cautious with women who are always with super professional makeup and hairdo, and who does not seem to have any other serious and proper occupation.

It is also a good idea to avoid any women who asks about financial and property issues of the user a lot. Such users can be assistants to a team of hackers who make efforts to identify the location and level of wellness of the user, to steal anything valuable.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

55% of couples argue about device overuse, according to study

Although devices often help to bring couples closer together, they can also push them apart and potentially put relationships at risk.

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In today’s digital world, it has become commonplace for couples to depend on devices to communicate and stay connected to each other. However, according to the latest Kaspersky Lab study, there are not only pros of “connected love” but also cons that should be taken into account. For example, 55% of couples have argued about device overuse, highlighting how although devices often help to bring couples closer together, they can also push them apart and potentially put relationships at risk.

For example, 51% have argued about a device being used during a meal or face-to-face conversation. In addition, over half (55%) of people have argued with their partner due to too much time being spent on a device, which is higher (58%) for couples that live together.
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Many people today depend on devices to stay connected with their friends and family, and the same is true for those in relationships. Indeed, couples today frequently use devices and online messaging services to strengthen their relationship: 8-in-10 people always stay in touch with their partner online when they are apart from each other and 62% of people agree that communicating through devices and the internet helps them feel closer to their partner, especially for people who are dating but do not live together (75%).

This digital devotion also extends to shared devices, as 53% of people say their relationship has improved since sharing their online activities, such as accounts and devices. Clearly, there are positives that come from using devices, but there are also some negatives that need to be considered.

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The research found that device usage can also lead to arguments between loved ones about a range of device-related issues such as overuse and cybersecurity incidents.

For example, 51% have argued about a device being used during a meal or face-to-face conversation. In addition, over half (55%) of people have argued with their partner due to too much time being spent on a device, which is higher (58%) for couples that live together, compared to 49% of those who are dating but live separately. This suggests that people don’t like feeling neglected and want their partner’s attention to be on them when they are together.

But excessive device usage isn’t the only thing that couples bicker about. Access to devices is also clearly a source of friction in relationships. A quarter (25%) have argued about whose turn it is to use the device, while forgetting to charge (45%) and losing (28%) devices are also causes of disagreements among couples.

Finally, there are cybersecurity issues to consider. Nearly a quarter (24%) of couples have argued after one person infected the device with malware and 19% have rowed after one partner lost money online by mistake or because of malware. As you would expect, couples that share devices are significantly more likely to argue about the issues mentioned above, highlighting how, when it comes to modern relationships, devices can be foes as well as friends.

“The capabilities of modern devices have created huge opportunities for couples, enabling them to constantly stay connected and build their relationship even when they are not together,” said Dmitry Aleshin, VP for product marketing, Kaspersky Lab. “But, there are cons as well as pros to take into account. These same devices which help couples to secure their love when they are apart, can also cause arguments when they are used irresponsibly. By making a conscious effort to take care of their digital lives – Including devices, accounts and online activities – and to not neglect their partners in the physical world, people can enjoy the many benefits that the digital world offers without upsetting their other half.”

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With people today spending so much time online and cybersecurity risks continuing to become more prevalent, they need to make sure that they are protected from the latest cyberthreats. One way to do this is through tools (such as Kaspersky Internet Security) that allow couples to communicate with each other without having to worry about being compromised by malware or having their personal data fall into the wrong hands.

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NEWSMAKERS

Grindr discloses users’ HIV status to other companies

A data analysis conducted by a research firm showed that the popular gay dating app Grindr is sharing its users’ HIV status with two other companies.

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So much for privacy?

Grindr is in a sticky situation after it was found that the hookup app shared its users HIV status and location data to other companies, according to a BuzzFeed News report by Azeen Ghorayshi and Sri Ray. The hookup app specifically furnished two companies, Apptimize and Localytics, with data on users’ HIV status and the last date they were tested for the virus.

The same BuzzFeed News article cited Antoine Pultier, a researcher from Norwegian non-profit organization SINTEF, who found that users’ HIV status was sent to two other companies, along with their email addresses, phone ID, and GPS data. SINTEF also noted that Grindr was passing on user data to advertising companies, with it being the type of information that the app’s users may not want shared beyond Grindr.

SINTEF was commissioned to produce the report by Swedish public broadcaster SVT, which first publicized the findings.

In response, Grindr claimed that it hired these companies to optimize the app, part of what the company said are “standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem.”

It is worth noting that Grindr users may not be explicitly aware that their data is being shared beyond the app, thereby touching on privacy issues. Also, sans transparency (and consent), the app has been letting private data go beyond the confines of its infrastructure by allowing this to be stored on servers it doesn’t control.

This development – coupled with the continuing stigma surrounding HIV – could affect people’s decision to disclose their status or not. As it stands, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) cite “fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reason why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status and take antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)”.

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One UK study, in fact, found that “participants who reported high levels of stigma were over four times more likely to report poor access to care.” This, in turn, contributes to the expansion of the global HIV epidemic and a higher number of AIDS-related deaths.

BuzzFeed News claimed that Grindr has since said that it will stop sharing the information.

The hookup app boasts more than three million daily users, and it is not immediately clear how many of its users were affected; as well as the breakdown in countries like the Philippines.

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