2013 in the Rearview, and the Security Lessons We’ve Learned

2013 Year in Review
Infographic: Security Lessions Learned in 2013

Infographic: Security Lessions Learned in 2013

To say that 2013 wasn’t a very good year for security is an understatement. From endless NSA leaks to major data breaches at LivingSocial, Adobe, and Target, it’s a year that I hope you won’t forget too quickly. Otherwise you may learn nothing from the security failures, leaving you more vulnerable to becoming a fraud victim yourself. If you want a head start on security for 2014, but the security headlines from 2013 already seem blurry, here are brief reminders of some of the bigger fraud-related news stories, events and failures.

January – The New York Times confirms that it was the victim of a sophisticated attack by Chinese hackers using advanced malware. The hackers used at least 45 different types of malware, only one of which was detected by the firm’s security systems.

February – Javelin Strategy and Research reported that there were more than 12 million victims of identity theft the previous year, one of the highest on record.

February – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint for the 13th straight year, reflecting the growing fear that consumers have about identity theft and how it can happen.

April – The annual Verizon Data Breach Report finds that the biggest group of victims of data breaches the previous year were small and mid-sized businesses.

April – Symantec’s Annual Internet Security Threat Report reveals that small businesses are the biggest target for hackers, citing the growing practice of turning unprotected small business websites into watering holes for malware infiltration.

May – Major website LivingSocial reports that it was the victim of a hack and that the names, email addresses, dates of birth and other information of more than 50 million users were stolen.

June – The PRISM project is revealed, exposing the NSA’s extensive surveillance of Internet companies and their users, and the collection of vast amounts of personal data. Businesses are so alarmed by the scale of the eavesdroppers, however, some observers estimated billion dollar losses to U.S. companies as businesses move their data to non-U.S. servers.

September – The Guardian newspaper also reveals the advances the NSA and its partners have made in cracking the encryption systems that so many businesses and financial institutions rely on to keep their secrets confidential.

October – Adobe announces that it was the victim of a hack that compromised IDs, passwords, and credit and debit card information of more than 38 million consumers, as well as Adobe’s own source code for some of its most popular products.

October – Researchers reveal that Chinese hackers have been focusing their attacks on small businesses to steal their data and to launch further attacks on bigger websites and businesses.

December – The Department of Justice estimates that there were 16.6 million victims of identity theft in 2012, significantly higher than previous estimates, and once again making it the single biggest fear for consumers.

December – Security researchers discover more than 2 million stolen passwords on a hacker website, and the prime suspect is a keylogger — someone who captures the keys typed into a keyboard or keypad, usually through a covert method.

December – Security firm OPSWAT announces the results of tests that show only one out of 44 of the most popular consumer anti-virus products could detect a keylogger.

December – Mega retailer Target acknowledges that, in just a two-week period, hackers were able to steal more than 40 million customer debit and credit cards. The stolen information was being sold on hacker websites within days. The event quickly triggered major media coverage, class action lawsuits, a call for a Congressional investigation, and a dip in sales for Target at the busiest time of the year. Obviously, it isn’t just big fraud events like these that impact consumers. But they will hopefully encourage you to be proactive when it comes to protecting your information.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.

Neal O’Farrell is one of the leading authorities on identity theft, and has spent 30 years fighting cybercrime and identity theft around the world....
Read more about Neal O'Farrell.

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