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2015: The Year Of The Breach; Close To 200 Million Personal Records Exposed

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ITRC logoThis year will go down as the year of the personal data breach. Consumers all over the world are learning their personal information is not safe with businesses, health insurers, financial institutions, the government, and even the educational sphere. Estimates of the number of personal records exposed in 2015 range from 176 million to more than 193 million from about 730 breaches.

Research indicates hackers are concentrating on medical and health care sectors that store patient data that cannot be replicated like credit card data.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) data breach report tracks seven types of data losses: hacking, data on the move, insider theft, employee error and negligence, Internet exposure, -physical theft and accident. The research tracks four types of information stolen: protected health information, Social Security numbers, email/passwords-user names and credit/debit card numbers.

According to San Diego, Calif.-based ITRC, health care accounted for 68.1% of all breaches, followed by government/military, 19.4%, business, 9.2%, banking/credit/financial, 2.9%, and educational, 0.4%.

The full extent of the personal information exposed is unknown, as the number of records compromised was not reported in many cases, the ITRC report notes.

Health Care Leads All Sectors In Exposed Data

Healthcare tab

In the health care sector, leading the list in terms of records lost was Anthem customers with 78.8 million; followed by Premera Blue Cross of Washington State, 11 million; Excellus Blue Cross
Blue Shield/Lifetime Healthcare, 10 million; Anthem Inc. – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana, 8.8 million; UCLA Health, 4.2 million; Medical Informatics Engineering/NoMoreClipbo, 3.9 million; CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield of Maryland, 1.1 million; and Empi Inc/DJO LLC of Minnesota, 160,000.

In the government/military sector, the Office of Personnel Management #2 lost 21.5 million records; followed by Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C., 4.2 million; and Georgia Secretary of State, 6 million.

In the business category, T-Mobile/Experian had 15 million records breached, followed by Vtech with 5 million; Missing Links Networks Inc./eCellar of California, 250,000; SterlingBackcheck, 100,000; Web.com, 93,000; Alfa Specialty Insurance Corp./Alfa Vision Insu, 86,000; Firekeepers Casino in Michigan, 85,000; We End Violence/California State Universities, 79,000; Securus Technologies in Texas, 63,000; Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. of Texas, 62.210; Service Systems Associates/Zoos of Colorado, 60,000; Blue Sky Casino/French Lick Resort of Indiana, 54,624; Uber, 50,000; Autozone, 49,967; Nobel House Hotel and Resorts – The Commons in Washington State, 19,472.

(The Ashley Madison breach, which exposed an estimated 37 million accounts, was not included in the ITRC report.)

In the banking/credit/financial sector, Scottrade had 4.6 million records exposed, followed by Morgan Stanley, 350,000; Piedmont Advantage Credit Union, 46,000; and E*trade , 31,000.

In the education sector, Auburn University in Alabama topped the list with 364,012 records breached, followed by Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, 160,000; and Career Education Corp. in Illinois, 151,6626.

Also read: 21 million more US personnel exposed in second attack

Seven Top Breaches

10Fold, a San Francisco, Calif.-based B2B technology public relations firm, reviewed the ITRC data breach report and some additional information. 10Fold analyzed 720 data breaches and compiled a review of what it considers the top seven breaches.

The top seven breaches compromised more than 5 million records. Following is a summary of these seven.

Anthem

The Anthem breach of 78.8 million patient records in early 2015 marked the largest breach in history. By the end of February, Anthem reported the breach impacted an additional 8.8 to 18.8
million non-patient records, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, employment data and addresses.

The breach began a series of health care hacks, including Prermera Blue Cross, UCLA Health Systems, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield

The attack on the health insurer began in December of 2013 following a series of attacks that took place earlier that year. The breach compromised personal information of more than 10 million members and leaves members vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. The information stolen included birth dates, Social Security numbers, names, member ID numbers, claims information and financial account information.

Premera Blue Cross

The health insurer discovered the attack affecting 11 million members in January of this year after it began in May of 2014. Investigators found the attackers infiltrated the information technology
system, enabling them to gain access to personal information of members and applicants, including Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, birth dates and bank account information. Members included Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon employees.

VTech

VTech, the maker of tablets and gadgets for children, had kids’ and parents’ information compromised by the breach of the Kid Connect and Learning Lodge app store customer database. The breach affected 6.4 million kids and 4.9 million parent accounts globally and marked the first attack to directly target children. It exposed personal ID information like passwords, download history, IP addresses, names, and children’s birth dates and genders.

Experian/T-Mobile

Attackers breached a server in a North American Experian/T-Mobile business unit containing personal ID information of about 15 million T-Mobile customers. The information included birth dates, names, Social Security numbers and alternate IDs like driver’s license numbers. One cause of the breach was that T-Mobile shared customer information with Experian to process credit card checks for device or service financing.

When customers share information with a business, the personal data is not always protected.

Office of Personnel Management

The attack affected 19.7 million individuals who applied for security clearances, plus 1.8 million relatives and other government personnel associates and 3.6 million former and current employees. The compromised data included 5.6 million fingerprint records that belong to background check applicants.

The breach alarmed intelligence officials about the theft of data on government forms submitted for security clearances. These applicants shared information about themselves, including health history and prior relationships. Hackers that gain access to information about employees with security clearances can cause irreparable damage to users’ privacy.

Ashley Madison

A hacker group called The Impact Team accessed the website’s user database, including financial and proprietary information of 37 million users. The hackers released a manifesto noting the “full delete” feature on the Ashley Madison website was false and that the company did not remove the personally identifiable customer information for those who wanted it deleted.

The statement instructed Avid Live Media (ALM), the parent company, to permanently delete the forums or all customer information would be released. The hackers released the customer information records two months later since ALM opted to keep the website running.

Images from Shutterstock and IRTC.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Breaches

MyEtherWallet Compromised in Security Breach; Users Urged to Move Tokens

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Popular cryptocurrency service MyEtherWallet (MEW) is urging users to move their tokens after the platform succumbed to its second cyber attack of the year. As the company reported earlier, hackers targeted MEW’s popular VPN service in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency.

Hola VPN Users Compromised

Rather than target MEW directly, hackers took control of the Hola VPN service, which claims nearly 50 million users. For the next five hours, MEW users who had the Hola chrome extension installed and running on their computer were exposed.

MEW took to Twitter to urge users to move their funds immediately.

“Urgent! If you have Hola chrome extension installed and used MEW within the last 24 hrs, please transfer your funds immediately to a brand new account!” the company said. It added the following message shortly thereafter:”We received a report that suggest Hola chrome extension was hacked for approximately 5 hrs and the attack was logging your activity on MEW.”

At the time of writing, MEW’s Twitter feed had no further updates.

MyEtherWallet is used to access cryptocurrency wallets, where users can send and receive tokens from other people.

The company reportedly told TechCrunch that the attack originated from a Russian-based IP address.

“The safety and security of MEW users is our priority. We’d like to remind our users that we do not hold their personal data, including passwords so they can be assured that the hackers would not get their hands on that information if they have not interacted with the Hola chrome extension in the past day,” MEW said, as quoted by TechCrunch.

It’s not yet clear how many users were compromised in the attack or how much, if any, was stolen from their wallets. MEW suffered a similar incident in February after a DNS attack wiped out $365,000 worth of cryptocurrency from users’ accounts.

Cyber Attacks on the Rise

The attack on MEW came less than 24 hours after Hacked reported another major cyber breach involving Bancor, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange. The security breach compromised roughly $23.5 million worth of digital currency, including Ethereum, NPXS and BNT, Bancor’s native token.

Last month, a pair of South Korean exchanges fell prey to cyber criminals, prompting local regulators to expedite their approval of new cryptocurrency laws.

It has been estimated that a total of $761 million has been stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges in the first half of the year, up from $266 million in all of 2017. That figure is expected to rise to $1.5 billion this year.

CipherTrace, the company behind the estimates, told Reuters last week that stolen cryptocurrencies are mainly used to launder money and aid criminals in concealing their identities.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 546 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Mt. Gox vs. Bithumb: That Was Then, This Is Now

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Bithumb now shares something in common with the Tokyo-based shuttered bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox — both suffered a hack on about the same date, June 19. It’s a club that no exchange wants to belong to and that Bithumb happened on the seven-year anniversary of Mt. Gox’s maiden attack has to be more than an eerie coincidence.

It’s a stark reminder of the risks involved with keeping funds on an unregulated exchange, vulnerabilities that cost South Korea’s Bithumb some $36.6 million in digital cash and Mt. Gox $450 million in hacked bitcoin and its future. The Mt. Gox theft unfolded over a series of hacks that culminated in 2014. Though it’s still early on in the Bithumb hack, it appears the South Korean exchange will recover from the security breach. So what do we know now that we didn’t on June 19, 2011?

Then vs. Now

Former Coinbase official Nick Tomaino, who is also the founder of crypto fund 1 confirmation, reflected on the Mt. Gox hack in what proved to be a prescient tweet given the Bithumb attack that was about to surface.

The thing to note about Mt. Gox is that the Japan-based exchange in 2011 controlled most of the BTC trading volume, approximately three-quarters of it by average estimates — more if you ask Tomaino. Since bitcoin fever caught on in 2017, there are more than 500 cryptocurrency exchanges on which trading volume is shared. Binance boasts the highest trading volume and captures nearly 15% of bitcoin trading. It’s much less than Mt. Gox days but still a little high.

The other thing to note is that the Mt. Gox hack or actually hacks, as there were multiple attacks on the exchange over several years, was a mysterious event that was shrouded in controversy and mistrust of a key executive. Bithumb, on the other hand, confronted the hack seemingly right away on Twitter and has not let any grass grow under its feet in the interim, which is a key difference in the way Mt. Gox was handled.

Also, the bitcoin price didn’t tank in response to the Bithumb hack. It traded lower for a while, but less than 24 hours it was back in the green, which is a reflection of the fact that bitcoin trading is no longer dependent on a single exchange.

Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin (LTC), the No. 6 cryptocurrency by market cap, was among the first to respond to the Bithumb hack. He tweeted:

Indeed, Bithumb does expect to be able to cover the losses via their reserves.

Crypto Security

It’s still early on in Bithumb’s security breach, and more details are sure to emerge in time. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to use the hack as an opportunity to examine the security of your cryptocurrency investment portfolio. There are several hardware wallet options out there for you to choose from — whether it’s Trezor or Ledger Nano S, to name a couple — and as Charlie Lee advised, “only keep on exchange coins that you are actively trading.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 36 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Bithumb Hack Prompts South Korea to Hasten Cryptocurrency Regulation

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South Korea’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange suffered a security breach on Wednesday, prompting local authorities to hasten their adoption of stricter regulations.

Bithumb Hack

Bithumb confirmed Wednesday that cyber criminals “seized” 35 billion won ($31.6 million) worth of digital cash in an apparent attack targeting user accounts. The exchange halted deposits at approximately 00:53 UTC and began a wholesale transfer of funds to cold storage to prevent further theft.

“We checked that some of cryptocurrencies valued about $30,000,000 was stolen,” Bithumb tweeted Wednesday. “Those stolen cryptocurrencies will be covered from Bithumb and all of assets are being transferring to cold wallet.”

The exchange has confirmed that it will fully compensate affected users.

An earlier update on Bithumb’s Twitter account reveals that a security upgrade was being carried out last week where it transferred to a cold wallet for safe storage. However, it is unclear whether the upgrade is linked to the theft.

In terms of trade volume, Bithumb is the world’s sixth-largest cryptocurrency exchange. The platform processed more than $355 million worth of digital currency transactions in the last 24 hours, according to data provided by CoinMarketCap.

Bithumb is the second South Korean exchange this month to have been hacked. Less than two weeks ago, more than $37 million was compromised in a coordinated attack on Coinrail. The attackers went after the exchange’s coins and lesser-known ERC-20 tokens.

South Korea to Boost Regulation

South Korea’s financial regulators have announced plans to implement stricter guidelines for virtual exchanges, and to do so more expeditiously than previously planned. The announcement, which came on the heels of the Bitthumb attack, follows months of deliberation about whether to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges like banks and other financial institutions.

As CCN notes, cryptocurrency exchanges are presently regulated as “communication vendors,” which means virtually anyone can launch an online trading platform. This designation prevents direct oversight of digital currency exchanges by financial regulators.

New crypto regulations are expected to be rolled out in the coming months, which will put South Korea’s financial authorities on par with their counterparts in the United States and Japan. In those countries, cryptocurrency exchanges must comply with laws pertaining to security and consumer protection.

Park Yong-kin, a committee member of the National Assembly, has championed stricter regulations since last year. According to local media, his views are now being echoed by other government officials.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 546 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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