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The biggest security snafus of 2013 (so far)

Ellen Messmer | July 2, 2013
Late last December ended with a hacker leaking data on 300,000 Verizon FIOS customers which was apparently stolen via a marketing partner of Verizon.

- Digital library and document-sharing website Scribd said it was hacked, though it believes only a small number of users, less than 1%, were impacted. Scribd recommended users change their passwords and said it was conducting a comprehensive security review.

- Apple's iMessage and Facetime messaging systems were hit by a glitch that took the services offline for several hours in early April.

- American Airlines grounded all its flights the afternoon of April 16 after experiencing numerous outages in its reservation system. The airline carrier said it resolved issues with its Sabre system later that day.

- Office supply store chain Staples had to lock down its corporate systems one day when it discovered a malware attack spreading on its systems, according to CRN, which reported on it based on a notification in e-mail to Staples employees.

- Store chain Schnuck Markets revealed that 2.4 million credit and debit cards used at its stores may have been compromised in a cyber theft in which criminals may have installed malware in the company's "processing environment," as payment cards were awaiting authorization. The company said 79 of its 100 stores were impacted.

- The 21-year-old hacker found guilty of a long string of crimes, including distributing a keylogger Trojan disguised as a Call of Duty software patch, has pleaded guilty to launching DDoS attacks on the websites of Oxford and Cambridge universities, which indicated they spent two weeks dealing with the attacks. Separately, Lewys Martin was also accused by police of harvesting 300 credit cards during his keylogging campaign.

- A fake press release went across the Internet, claiming that Chinese search giant Baidu had made an offer to acquire social-gaming company Zynga. The fake release said Baidu was offering to buy Zynga for $10 a share and contained made-up quotes from executives to that effect. The hoax, refuted by the firms, didn't get much attention, and the website, PR Urgent, that was hosting the bogus information took down the fake press release.

- After someone hacked an Associated Press (AP) Twitter account and posted a bogus tweet saying the White House had been attacked, the Dow, which had been up about 130 points, fell into the red for two minutes, erasing $200 billion of stock value, but bounced back quickly when it came clear the "news" was a hoax. A group called the Syrian Electronic Army too credit for the fake AP message. Other news organizations whose Twitter accounts were hacked that month include CBS and NPR. And oh, the fake news site The Onion was hacked, too.

- Sears, which owns Kmart, said a robbery the month before at a Little Rock, Ark., store resulted in a thief taking from a safe not just $6,000 in cash but the day's backup disk that was unencrypted and apparently not password-protected. It included the full names, addresses, dates of birth, prescription numbers, prescribers, insurance cardholder IDs and drug names for some 788 customers, according to Sears, and some customer Social Security numbers.


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