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Worst security snafus of 2012

Some of the worst online security problems of 2012 came in the form of DDoS attacks, cloud outages and political unrest

By , Network World
December 10, 2012 11:53 AM ET

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• After there were complaints in Skype's users forum, Skype, a division of Microsoft, acknowledged a glitch in its software resulted in instant messages of users being shared with unintended parties.

August

• Knight Capital Group said electronic-trading glitches in its system caused wild price swings in dozens of stocks and would likely result in a $440 million loss to the brokerage firm, one of the biggest players in the U.S. stock market. The New York Stock Exchange canceled trades in six stocks that experienced the most pronounced price swings of more than 30% of their opening price one morning.

Major League Baseball logo

• The official social media accounts of several Major League Baseball teams were compromised, leading to some embarrassing messages appearing on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. A fraudulent post on the Facebook page for the New York Yankees, for instance, said the club's star Derek Jeter would miss the rest of the season due to "sexual reassignment surgery." The Twitter feeds of Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres all posted similarly inappropriate messages.

• The news service Reuters was hacked and a phony interview with Riad al-Assad of the Free Syrian Army was posted, containing made-up information that his forces had pulled back from the northern provinces of Aleppo after battling the Syrian Army. Reuters confirmed the hack but did not indicate the source, though the Free Syrian Army blamed its adversary, the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

• A destructive computer virus intended to delete files struck internal network services at oil producer Saudi Aramco, affecting about 30,000 workstations, forcing a temporary system shutdown. A Qatari producer, Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company, said a virus forced a shutdown of its computer system during the month as well.

• Hactivist group Anonymous disrupted several British government sites in protest against the handling of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, because Britain indicated Assange would be arrested and deported if he emerged from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, which granted him asylum following Swedish efforts to extradite him for questioning over rape allegations. Also in August, the WikiLeaks site itself was flooded with a DDoS attack, making it temporarily unavailable for about a week, with a group called AntiLeaks taking credit for the attack.

• Some AT&T customers were affected by a failure in the carrier's Domain Name System (DNS) servers, and AT&T later ascribed the problem to a distributed denial-of-service attack that required mitigation.

• Microsoft decided to temporarily stop publishing new apps for Windows Phone on Marketplace due to an issue associated with digital certificates used to sign apps that prevented some phones from installing some apps for a few days.

• A 60-year-old civilian employee for NATO at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, whose name was only given as "Manfred K.," was arrested on suspicion of espionage after he downloaded classified data top his personal computer and copied it. Prosecutors in Germany said they believed he stole "state secrets" intended to be passed to Russia's Federal Security Service for $10 million.

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