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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

Page 3 of 7

• Blizzard Entertainment, maker of the popular multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft, warned that its internal network had been breached, revealing scrambled passwords and email addresses. Blizzard apologized for the data breach.

• Google agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine to settle U.S. government charges that it violated privacy laws when it tracked users of Apple's Safari browser through cookies. In its legal complaint, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Google falsely told Safari users that it wouldn't place tracking cookies on their devices or serve them targeted ads. But instead, Google actively circumvented Safari's cookie-blocking settings in order to track the users, the FTC said.

Wired journalist Mat Honan suffered a round of torment by hackers after they compromised and took over his iCloud account at Apple. The hackers had simply called Apple and bluffed their way into getting Honan's iCloud account, and Apple admitted "internal policies were not followed completely," promising changes to prevent this from happening again.

• A former head of fraud and security for digital banking at Lloyds bank, Jessica Harper, admitted to committing what amounts to millions of dollars in fraud by filing false invoices to claim payments for more than three years.

• Chinese search engine Baidu fired four employees, three of whom were under arrest, for allegedly accepting bribes to delete content on its popular online forum. The content deletion occurred on the company's online forum, Baidu Tieba, and it has become a common practice in China to pay individuals to delete controversial or negative posts.


• Websites of broadcaster Al Jazeera were knocked offline as its Domain Name Servers were attacked. A group called Al-Rashedon claimed responsibility, displaying a Syrian flag and large red stamp reading "Hack."

• After police in Cambodia arrested one of the founders of The Pirate Bay file-sharing website, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a group calling itself NullCrew began hacking into Cambodian government and commercial websites there.

• Anti-malware firm Sophos was forced to apologize to customers after a faulty antivirus software update caused false positives for certain malware, resulting in disruptions that lasted for more than a week for some customers. Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman apologized.

• A Romanian researcher discovered a data breach in an FTP server owned by the Institute of Electrical Engineers that exposed the user names and passwords of almost 100,000 members. The IEEE organization apologized, and said it fixed the problem.

• Hackers with the Antisec group leaked a million ID numbers from Apple Inc. devices, numbers they claimed to have taken from the computer of an agent with the FBI. The leaked data included the ID numbers, the device name, and a code that allows developers to push information to the devices.

• The Federal Trade Commission brought down its punitive regulatory hammer on seven rent-to-own companies on charges they used spyware on computers they rented to customers. The FTC singled out software vendor DesignerWare LLC because software it supplied for rented computers to secretly monitored renters' online activities, including user names and passwords for social-networking sites and financial institutions, medical records and photos of family members, sending the information to an email account designated by each store. The proposed FTC settlement with DesignerWare and the computer rental companies bars use of the monitoring software and prohibits use of geolocation tracking without consumer notice and consent. However, DesignerWare owner Timothy Kelly said the FTC has "grossly misunderstood" the purpose of software PC Rental Agent, which he said is intended to track down stolen computers.

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