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Most Notable Cybersecurity Breaches of 2016
Data breaches have become quite common and it is quite frustrating to think about the way attackers are managing to infiltrate networks and web applications while getting away with valuable information. Though cyber-attacks cost the IT industry about hundred billion dollars each year, the cybersecurity breaches have come down crashing this year, there have been various denial of service attacks resulting very significant damage to both infrastructure and reputation.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
A laptop and portable hard drives that contained personal information was stolen in April 2016 from the Office of Child Support Enforcement in Washington. Using a disgruntled employee in order to acquire a key, the devices were stolen by the intruders. Information on as many as 5 million individuals is said to have been on those devices that also have the phone numbers, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers.
This information security breach had occurred after the announcement made by federal government of a massive data breach which affected and exposed the personal information of more than 21 million federal contractors and employees.
21st Century Oncology
21st Century Oncology, a Florida-based cancer care institution, declared that a huge data protection issue resulting in breach that had revealed the information of 2.2 million patients that reside internationally across the 50 states. The company database was broken into in October 2016 and hackers stole the personal information of patients that included names, social security numbers, treatment data, diagnosis, physician’s names and insurance information. Thus far, there has been no indication of misuse of the leaked information.
A hacker by the alias “Peace”, posted data on the dark web for sale in May and allegedly it included information of 167 million LinkedIn accounts. A week later, there were 360 million emails and passwords for MySpace users. This leak expands on the 6.5 million encrypted passwords that had been put up online after a cybersecurity breach in 2012. The leaks were reported by Motherboard first and the credentials that had emails, passwords and usernames were mainly from the former breaches according to a paid hacked data search engine, LeakedSource.
Internal Revenue System
The Internal Revenue Service announced at the peak of tax season that they had suffered a major blow of data protection breach which exposed information about more than 7,00,000 individuals. IRS stated that 724,000 accounts were affected as a result. The information (social security numbers and other personal data) was accessed through the IRS Get Transcript program that had been created to enable the taxpayers to check their history online. Using the data from the breaches of IRS approved online accounts and tax preparers, the hackers got to access the accounts.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security
In February of 2016, the FBI had been threatened by the hackers which proved to be true in dumping the record of almost 30,000 FBI and workers from the Department of Homeland Security. The records also included personal data of around 20,000 FBI and 9,000 DHS employees and included names and contact information. The hacker, who had reached out with the files to Motherboard, claims that he had access to more files which totaled to 200 GB.
Web Application Firewalls (WAF) have become essential to defend businesses, of all sizes, from sophisticated application layer attacks. Why is WAF so important? Because of the many points of integration within the internal and external system, web application is often seen as a gateway to mission critical information. When web application defence is weak, it makes it easy for an attacker to compromise the web application, gaining access to personal information and intellectual property. Protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks (which is frequently covered by the mainstream media), is one of the key functionalities of the web application firewalls.
According to the Imperva’s Bot Traffic Report, nearly half of all website visitors are bots. 29% are bad bots including impersonators, hackers, thieves and spammers. An alarming 90% of security events are cause by bad bots, making web application defence even more essential for businesses.
Steve E. Driz