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Network Security Review – 2015 Was Not a Good Year

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Fear of a breach similar to the 2014 hacking scandals which brought Sony to its knees, and rocked Target to its core, has pushed IT security to the top priority at a majority of private and publicly traded companies. Even after these titans of industry were digitally compromised, 2015 saw some of the most massive data breaches in history. With so many code exploits on legacy networks, the loss of personal and private information will continue far beyond 2016. Here’s a look back at some of the most notable data security failures from 2015.

There still isn’t a way to quantify the relationship and professional compromises made among the near 37 million people Ashley Madison’s data breach left out in the open. The very real threat of blackmail now that this information has been publicized may explain why so many elected officials are saying some of things they are saying. Just a theory though.

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What is done with this information?

Well depending on which expert you speak with, you’ll hear a number of situations ranging from chat rooms sale scenarios which you can find individual files for sale for up to $10,000. Or the more common data dumps are giant unfiltered and unrefined spreadsheets of data on entire zip codes of users. The worst part about this is simple; in this new era titled “the Internet of Things” not even children will be safe from those who wish to sell our inter-connected personal secrets. Just this week VTech, a child’s toy company, lost every piece of identifiable data on 6.4 million children. Here’s an unpleasant thought. How could someone manipulate a child/person if the psychological profile fell into the wrong hands? A person or organization with malicious intent may have your description, your personal information, your secret information and your healthcare records. What other areas would a hacker need to gain access to in order breach the imaginary and transparent privacy wall around the private lives we all enjoy?

Sound sinister?

Over 10 million names, birthdays, social security numbers and addresses were stolen from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in 2015 and unfortunately many member financial statements and claim information files were also lost in the 2015 data breach. Although these numbers are staggering, keep in mind none of them have had the ramifications of the Carphone Warehouse UK Hacking scandal which saw 4% of the United Kingdom’s cell phone users’ private information stolen and published on the dark web. In a startling trend of stealing from colleges in order to gain access to students, the public university UCLA also lost 4.5 million records in a massive social security and medical data heist.

Now back to the U.S. There are many breaches that you will never hear about. After researching just how many millions of people have their lives compromised everyday by data thieves, we found that no business vertical is safe. Hackers are now using super computers to crack encrypted banking and credit card information. Such is the case with CVS who saw hackers reportedly force the company to reveal millions of their customers’ passwords, medical and prescription information as well as any encrypted credit card data associated with an individual account. All previously thought safe information now compromised and is for sale in the deep web.

T-Mobile, the 3rd ranked cellular company may have answered that for us. Due to an unlikely partnership with Experion, T-Mobile lost nearly 15,000,000 customer data files including so called tough to crack encrypted files. The financial services industry also saw its once vaunted security platform shaken down when Scottrade was robbed of 4.6 million user account logins, trade strategies and investment portfolio details. You know, pretty much all the info required by the feds to legally and accurately report wealth. Ironic because in 2015 hackers also successfully emptied the databases of nearly 22.1 million current and former federal employees, including fingerprints of 5.6 million people. The CIA, the FBI and even Donald Trump’s organization were all hacked in 2015. Details of the Trump hack revealed a comprise in security codes and card numbers of his hotel guests.

What this all spells out to is not that someone may be out for you personally, but many people are out for your data and the data you store at the organizations you trust. These have all been examples of wide net hacking, when someone or some group just wants the information to sell. But the other side of this coin, the ugly side, can ruin your life and career. Enter Hacking Team. This was an example of an ordered hacking hit on a technology company which required the hacking contractor to not only breach Hacking Team’s systems, but included an order to publish all the stolen data online as well. This brought the formerly highly respected company to a screeching halt as every email, every piece of code, every secret the company had was now available for free download. For just a moment picture a rogue employee publishing the details of every instance of data your company or its employees have ever created. That is what happened to this company and the fall out is still in play. Not only did the company get publicly burned, many wholly unrelated end users may have suffered. Hacking Team’s products were pieces of code that included Adobe Flash exploits for the millions upon millions of flash users.

Data security is more important today than ever before. Our world is a dynamic environment in which you will not be able to win 100% of the battles, but you can take simple steps with the right technologies to frighten away the raiders while simultaneously fending off the wolves. The digital world is melding with the physical and now that compromised lifestyle patterns are being sold to the highest bidder, if you’re not careful you may be the next target.

Need help with your data security? Then contact the experts in managed network security services at Starnet Data Design. Either give us a call at 1-800-779-0587 or complete our simple online contact form to get started right away.

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