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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.

Technology

Know thy history; revisit the first 10 years of San Francisco’s Pride

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

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Third World Gay Caucus contingent, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1977; photograph by Marie Ueda, Marie Ueda Collection (2006-12), GLBT Historical Society.

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? Should events highlight the not-that-pretty/sexy yet still ongoing struggles, or just focus on the glamour (and while at it, earn organizers big bucks)? And part of this confusion stems from the lack of awareness, if not appreciation of Pride’s history.

A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

Organized by the GLBT Historical Society, with the support of San Francisco Pride, “Labor of Love: The Birth of San Francisco Pride, 1970–1980” showcases how San Francisco’s LGBTQIA community in the 1970s forged the annual celebration that would come to be known as the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade.

On June 27, 1970, a small group marched down Polk Street, and the following day staged a “gay-in” picnic in Golden Gate Park. Over the course of the decade, Pride became an annual San Francisco event, growing by leaps and bounds. Initially referred to as Christopher Street West — to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riot on that street in New York City — and then as Gay Freedom Day, Pride drew some 250,000 participants and spectators in 1980. 

“Labor of Love” revisits the first 10 years of San Francisco Pride using historic photographs, ephemera, artifacts, and film and sound recordings from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society and from community members. The exhibition explores the goals, the controversies, the hard work, the desires and the sometimes-competing spirits of struggle and celebration that laid the foundation for one of the city’s best-known public festivals. 

The exhibition is co-curated by Gerard Koskovich, a public historian and rare book dealer; Don Romesburg, professor of gender and women’s studies at Sonoma State University; and Amy Sueyoshi, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. They emphasize that Pride has traditionally deployed both frivolity and protest to promote a positive cultural shift in how society views LGBTQ people. 

The exhibition is organized around four themes.

“Why Pride?” considers how organizers and community members explained the purpose of the annual gathering.

“The Work of Pride” explores the ever-increasing commitment to planning, fundraising, volunteer support and governance that the event required.

“Pride Fights” grapples with the debates over what Pride should be, who should be included, who should make the decisions and how they should be made.

Finally, “Big Gay Family” highlights how the creation of San Francisco Pride brought diverse people into a collective, yet often contested kinship. 

POSTER 1: “Christopher Street Liberation Day Gay-In,” offset flyer, 1970; Charles Thorpe Papers (1987-02), GLBT Historical Society.
POSTER 2: San Francisco Gay Pride program, 1972; Ephemera Collection, GLBT Historical Society.

The interactive final section of the show, “Pride: From Past to Future,” invites visitors to reflect on the history, then look ahead by submitting their responses to two questions: “How will the future of Pride be shaped? How should it be shaped?” The answers will be posted in the online gallery to spark an ongoing dialog about the heritage of Pride.

“Labor of Love” will also be installed as a physical exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum at 4127 18th Street in San Francisco’s Castro district at a future date.

For more information, visit the GLBT Historical Society website at www.glbthistory.org.

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Lifestyle & Culture

The best slot games you can play at online casinos

Finding the top titles can be tricky and that’s why I’ve highlighted three leading ones for you, to save you a bit of time and give you a few great options to pick from.

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Playing the best slots games is a great way to have fun at online casinos. Slot games are quick to learn and offer you the chance to win some real money from your gambling sessions. 

Finding the top titles can be tricky and that’s why I’ve highlighted three leading ones for you, to save you a bit of time and give you a few great options to pick from. 

Image source: PxHere.com

Read my mini-reviews, decide which game(s) you like best, and then head over to an online casino to give them a try. 

Starburst

Starburst is perhaps the most popular slots game that you can play at online casinos. It’s in the catalog of most gambling sites and with good reason – it’s fast-paced, fun to play, and features some great graphics. 

Alongside its great gameplay, Starburst also has a competitive RTP of 96.1%. This means that £96.10 of every £100 wagered is returned to players over time. So, not only is Starburst great fun, but it’s also a slots game that gives you a great chance of winning some cash. 

You can play Starburst at many leading gambling sites, such as 888 Casino. You can find out what other great slots games are at 888 by heading to OnlineCasinos.co.uk and reading the review of this top site. 

The Goonies: Jackpot King

One of the reasons that so many gamblers like to play slots games is that they borrow from pop culture. The Goonies: Jackpot King is one such example, using a beloved film as its source of inspiration. 

There’s much to like about The Goonies: Jackpot King. It’s simple to play, has a good range of bet sizes, and has a good RTP. But the main reason it’s one of the best slot games is the storyline – if you like The Goonies then you’ll adore its references to the film’s characters.

The Goonies: Jackpot King is available at the top online casinos, including PlayOJO. You can learn more about the game by visiting PlayOJO.com, selecting the “?” icon on the game, and absorbing PlayOJO’s introduction to The Goonies: Jackpot King.  

Royal Mint: Megaways

Royal Mint: Megaways is made by the excellent Big Time Gaming, guaranteeing that it’s a slots title with great gameplay. It draws its inspiration from the organisation responsible for mining coins in the UK and money is a feature that runs strong through the game. 

Royal Mint: Megaways takes its storyline from money but there’s a much more enticing cash feature to the game – its paylines. Royal Mint: Megaways has a phenomenal 117,649 paylines, meaning there’s an extraordinary number of ways that you can win some cash. 

You can play Royal Mint: Megaways at the very best slot casinos and LeoVegas is one of the top choices for many gamblers. LeoVegas.com has over 1,000 games, with an enormous number of slots titles for you to choose from. 

Recommended reading: Best Microgaming blackjack games in the UK

Starburst, The Goonies: Jackpot King, and Royal Mint: Megaways are three of the very best slot games you can play at online casinos. 

Each offers you something slightly different and I suggest you give them all a try, so you decide which one you like best

Just check the bonuses available at the online casino you’re betting at first, as it may be that it has a free spins offer for the game you’ve picked. 

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Technology

Run a business? 5 Reasons why contactless payments make sense

One of the great things about the digital payment revolution in the 21st century is how people don’t even need a physical card to buy stuff. Android and Apple smartphone users can use their NFC-enabled devices to make contactless payments.

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If you run a retail business, either permanently based in commercial store premises or as a “pop-up” store, one thing’s for sure. You’re going to need to accept card payments from your customers.

Sure, you could run a cash-only business. But, you’d be cutting out a significant customer base that wants to buy your goods. For example, the U.S. Federal Reserve states that only 30% of consumers use cash for their purchases. 65% pay with debit and credit cards.

Image source: Pixabay.com

What’s more, most debit and credit cardholders use the contactless payment feature of their cards regularly. These days, virtually all retailers that accept card payments also accept contactless payments.

But why do contactless payments make sense for retailers like yourself? Well, it turns out there are five distinct advantages of offering this payment option to your customers. They are as follows:

1. Contactless payment limits are high

In some countries such as the United Kingdom, contactless payment limits are around $57 (£45 GBP). However, in nations such as the United States, there are no limits.

If you want to give your customers the quickest yet most convenient shopping experience, offering contactless payment options is a good idea. All consumers need to do is hover their card over the reader, and they can go once the transaction gets approved.

2. Contactless payments are a necessity during COVID-19

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone globally. Everyone is adjusting to a new way of living their lives, and one such change is the reliance on contactless payment options.

Contactless payment terminals allow your customers to purchase your goods and services without needing to touch anything other than their cards. They also ensure customers don’t have to queue for long when they get to your checkout tills.

3. Smartphone owners use contactless payments

One of the great things about the digital payment revolution in the 21st century is how people don’t even need a physical card to buy stuff. Android and Apple smartphone users can use their NFC-enabled devices to make contactless payments.

As with physical debit and credit cards, all smartphone owners need to do is hover their smartphones over a compatible card reader. If you chose the best credit card reader for your business, it would offer contactless payment functionality as standard.

4. Contactless transactions are secure

Another advantage of contactless payments is each transaction is secure. Card issuers (i.e., banks and credit card companies) have fraud detection systems in place to minimize contactless card fraud.

For instance, such systems might include requiring users to enter their PIN on the keypad for high-value items or every 10th contactless transaction. What’s more, if a cardholder reports their card lost or stolen, thieves can’t make contactless payments on their accounts.

5. You’ll increase your sales

It should come as no surprise that making it easier for your customers to pay will result in higher sales figures for your business. Contactless payments are convenient for consumers and businesses alike and improve efficiency in retail stores.

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Technology

How much protection does your business really need?

But just how risky are things out there? Do you need a tremendous amount of security? Or will you be okay if you avoid the cost?

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Business owners not only have to worry about their finances and customers, but also protecting their assets from criminals. 

But just how risky are things out there? Do you need a tremendous amount of security? Or will you be okay if you avoid the cost? 

Answering these questions depends very much on your location. Some companies can get away with minimal security apparatus because they occupy distant places or don’t store any valuables on-site. Others need to be much more careful. 

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

In the digital world, it is an entirely different matter. Distance is no defense. And practically every company owns sensitive data that hackers can exploit in some way if they choose to do so. 

The level of protection your company needs, therefore, depends on the following factors: 

The Value And Sensitivity Of Your Data

If you own a cupcake business that sells packaged cakes for delivery in your local community, then criminals probably won’t go to great lengths to steal your data. It might have value, but it will be relatively low down on their list of target priorities. 

If, however, your data is the source of your competitive advantage, you need to start paying attention to its integrity. If you need the information to develop new products, connect with customers, or advertise effectively, you’re a high-value target. You’re also valuable to criminals if you collect and store personally-identifiable information about your customers. 

Audit the value of your personal data and try to figure out what it is worth. If you’re not sure, call in IT cybersecurity professionals and get them to give you a rundown. 

The Value Of Your On-Site Assets

The majority of modern businesses are capital-light, meaning that they don’t need a vast amount of plant and equipment to make them run. Nobody is going to risk years in prison to raid the offices of an accountant. 

With that said, many companies store vast quantities of expensive machinery and inventory on their premises, immediately putting them at risk. If you have a substantial number of goods lying around, you’re a high-value target and at risk. 

Don’t assume that criminals are oblivious to your activities because you’re a small player. Professional thieves are skilled at what they do and often make a fortune by plying their trade. 

First, you’ll need to put up plenty of security around your premises and outbuildings. An 80W wall pack light, for instance, can act as a deterrent for anybody coming onto your property. You’ll also want to fit a security system with motion sensors and integrated cameras connected to your smartphone via WiFi. Doing this will immediately tell you whether somebody is on your premises. 

Finally, you’ll want to make extensive use of shutters and physical barriers without being too obvious. Criminals know that significant investments in physical defenses signals high-value contents. And so it can sometimes make them more determined to break in and steal your possessions. 

Thus, the amount of protection your business needs scales with the value of its assets, both physical and digital. 

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NEWSMAKERS

Tech-related jealousy is real… including LGBTQIAs

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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Photo by @nordwood from Unsplash.com

Social media can be a source of jealousy and uncertainty in relationships – especially for younger adults.

This is according to a Pew Research Center study (with the survey conducted in October 2019, though the study was only released recently) that found that, indeed, many people encounter tech-related struggles with their significant others.

In “Dating and Relationships in the Digital Age”, Pew Research Center noted that “younger people value social media as a place to share how much they care about their partner or to keep up with what’s going on in their partner’s life.” However, “they also acknowledge some of the downsides that these sites can have on relationships.”

Twenty-three percent (23%) of adults with partners who use social media say they have felt jealous or unsure about their relationship because of the way their current spouse or partner interacts with other people on social media.

Now get this: the number is higher among those in younger age groups.

Among partnered adults whose significant other uses social media, 34% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 26% of those ages 30 to 49 say they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media. This is definitely higher than the 19% of those aged 50 to 64 who say this, and 4% of those ages 65 and up.

The insecurity is also common among those not married – i.e. 37% of unmarried adults with partners who are social media users say they have felt this way about their current partner, while only 17% of married people say the same.

Women are reportedly more likely to express displeasure with how their significant other interacts with others on social media (29% vs. 17% for men).

Meanwhile, college graduates are less likely to report having felt this way than those with some college experience or a high school degree or less.

And yes, LGBTQIA community members are no different.

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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NEWSMAKERS

LGB online daters report positive experiences… plus harassment

LGB online daters are more likely than their straight counterparts to experience a range of negative behaviors on dating platforms, varying from name-calling to physical threats. Among those who have ever used an online dating site or app, they reported experiencing at least one of the forms of harassment measured in this survey on those sites and apps (69%, compared with 52% of their straight counterparts).

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults who use online dating sites and apps generally report that their experiences with online dating have been positive – even more than straight online daters (65% said their experience was very or somewhat positive, versus 56% of straight online daters).

This is according to a Pew Research Center survey, which found that a majority of LGB adults (55%) report that they have used an online dating site or app at some point, roughly twice the share of straight adults (28%) who say the same.

Among LGB adults who are married, living with a partner, or in a committed relationship, 28% say they met their current partner online. This is more than double when compared with 11% of partnered straight adults.

Also, among LGB people who are now single and looking for a relationship or dates, 37% are currently online dating (versus 24% of straight people who are single and looking).

However – and this is worth highlighting – LGB online daters are also more likely than their straight counterparts to experience a range of negative behaviors on dating platforms, varying from name-calling to physical threats. Among those who have ever used an online dating site or app, they reported experiencing at least one of the forms of harassment measured in this survey on those sites and apps (69%, compared with 52% of their straight counterparts).

More than half of LGB online daters (56%) say they have received a sexually explicit message or image they did not ask for, compared with 32% of straight online daters who say the same.

Stalking was also raised as an issue, with roughly half of LGB online daters (48%) saying that someone continued to contact them after they said they weren’t interested, compared with 35% of their straight counterparts.

About four in 10 LGB online daters (41%) say someone called them an offensive name on one of these sites or apps – 16 percentage points higher than the share of straight online daters (25%) who say the same.

Lastly, 17% of LGB online daters said that someone on a dating site or app threatened to physically harm them. This is more than twice the share of straight online daters (7%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, according to the Pew Research Center survey, LGB adults who have ever online dated are more likely than straight online daters to think harassment and bullying is a “common problem” on dating sites and apps (70%, compared to 61% of non-LGBs).

No matter the drawbacks, don’t expect online daters – LGBT or straight – to just dump it.

As per the Pew Research Center survey, even among those who experienced at least one of the asked-about forms of harassment on dating sites and apps, they still said that online dating is safe for the most part. Three-quarters of LGB people who have experienced at least one of the harassing behaviors saying it’s a very or somewhat safe way to meet someone, with 64% of straight online daters who have been harassed agreeing.

And with 78% of LGBT online daters (and 69% of their straight counterparts) still believing that dating sites and apps are a very or somewhat safe way to meet people, this trend isn’t going anywhere soon…

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