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The Biggest Hacks and Breaches from 2014



IBM’s Security team has released cyber attack statistics for 2014. In the summary, 2014s biggest hacks so far have changed from previous years – focusing on malware affecting US retailers, 43% more retail data was stolen in 2014 than the previous year.

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IBM said 61 million retail records were stolen over the last 12 months. Down from last year’s 73 million. Also noted, the number of daily attacks dropped from 4,200 to just over 3,000. Put together, it shows the typical breach in 2014 has become more destructive.

Below are 8 of 2014s Biggest Hacks So Far. Often, breaches are not made public until months after they occur. Historically, Black Friday has been one of the most active days for cyber attacks. That information is not anticipated until later in the year.


2014's Biggest Hacks So Far IBM ChartLast September more than 100 listings identified as exploits tricked customers into handing over their personal identification. First reported on the 17th in an iPhone listing, the attacks continued throughout the week.

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The problem centered on Ebay’s feature of letting sellers place Javascript and Flash on their item page. Hackers used cross-server scripting exploits to spoof banking sites. Users fooled by the listings were redirected to pages asking them to link their bank accounts. Many of the listings were placed through hijacked accounts. Some sellers having used their accounts for years with massive feedback and regular shoppers. It gets worse, some sellers logged back into their accounts to find massive listing fees. Security researchers say that the Javascript/XSS attack had been part of the site since February.

Ebay had faced hacking problems earlier in 2014 as well. Also last February, surreptitious hackers broke into Ebay stealing logins, passwords, birth dates, email and physical addresses of users. Hackers made use of leaked Ebay employee data to access the network.

Ebay asked user’s to change their passwords in May, once they became aware. No financial data was reported lost. Though, hackers now know where Ebay user’s live and may focus on them, physically, in hopes of revealing more personal information offering fake deals and offers via mail and email.

Also, in July, hackers broke into Ebay subsidiary StubHub and defrauded nearly $1 million from the service.

Target a Target

data breachOriginally reported at the end of 2013, the Target hack was, perhaps, a precursor to the rise of 2014 retail attacks. Responsible for the loss of 40m financial records and 70m customer accounts, the cost of replacing credit and debit cards is roughly $400m alone. The hack occurred over November and December, in time for Black Friday. Over the past year, more has come to light regarding the notorious breach.

Malware introduced through third-party vendors point-of-sale machines hummed away during the holiday shopping season. Target was unaware of the hack until their customers data surfaced on a black market website.

Security research Brian Krebs reported that Fazio Mechanical, a heating and air contractor may have provided thieves the means to attack Target. The firm had previously succumbed to a phishing attack linked to the malware found on Target’s system.

Also read: Bitcoin Exchange Bitstamp Is Back Online with Multi-sig Security after Hack

AOL Email Spoofs

As many as 2% of AOL Mail accounts could have been compromised by spammers last April. The accounts were still used to send spoofed emails – a message that appears to be from a valid contact, but is not from the contact.

AOL notified affected users and has been working with law enforcement. The Twitter feed #aolhacked tracked the effect of the hack. The unauthorized access did not lead to a loss of financial data. This was not 2014s biggest hack, but respect for a 90s company making a headline in 2015.

UPS Malware Breach

The UPS Store was alerted by the US government that malware was targeting US retailers. Fifty-one compromised franchises in twenty-four states may have leaked information from January until August. Although UPS has not released a hard number for such a large time frame, no fraud has been attributed to this hack, yet.

Every UPS store affected by the malware was individually owned – separate from the corporate locations. These stores are responsible for their service contracts and were not part of the, larger, UPS network.

2014s Biggest Hacks Citadel

Citadel Malware


Staples Credit Card Harvesting

Between August and September malware, ran amok on Staple’s Point of Sale system. Over one million credit cards, verification codes, expiration dates and full names of cardholders escaped from the system. Staples have since offered identity protection services to customers shopping at affected locations.

The Staples attack drew the attention of security expert Brian Krebs. At the time, he was following the malware that hit Staples. Several banking sources had tipped him on a pattern of debit and credit fraud similar to the point-of-sale malware.

Home Depot

On September 8th, Home Depot confirmed a hack that compromised nearly 56 million credit cards and 53 million email addresses. Exploiting a flaw in the Windows Operating System, hackers pushed custom malware to self-checkout terminals. The software ran for five months, swiping customer information.

Hackers targeted the 7,500 checkout terminals because they were the easiest to identify in Home Depot’s database. The companies 70,000 registers, apparently, were obfuscated in some way. The Depot became aware of the breach when their customers credit card information began showing up on, the of stolen credit cards.

Estimates the breach will cost Home Depot upwards of $63m have not phased the home repair behemoth. This attack eclipses the Target breach earlier in the year where 40m customer credit card records were harvest. Home Depot shares closed the year up 18% and 4% over their sales goals. If they are worried, Home Depot customers are not showing it.

Also read: Tech is Charlie, Hackers are Charlie

JPMorgan Bailed Out of Their Systems

One of the largest breaches ever hit JP Morgan Chase last June, lasting until July. Certainly, this was 2014s biggest hack in the financial realm. Although the organization chose not to come forward until a security filing in October, some 76 million households and 7 million business accounts were compromised.

Security researchers close to the case suspect that somehow hackers obtained architecture diagrams of JP Morgans internal systems. Once equipped with a road map to the largest banking system in the country, the hackers cross-checked each system with know exploits looking for ways inside.

In a short time, the attackers obtained root privileges (the highest administrative level) in dozens of JP Morgan systems. It’s still unclear how hackers gained this level of access and researchers close to the case say it may take months to understand the intruders’ methods. Additionally, that it would take months to patch and renegotiate licensing deals to swap out software.

Although the initial disclosure of the breach sent chills down Wall Street’s spine and prompted an investigation by the FBI and Federal Reserve, no motive has been ascertained. In spite of compromising over 90 servers, no evidence exists to support any customer accounts lacked funds. Most perplexing, where did the funding for such an attack come from if there was no financial gain. For a time, law enforcement speculated the attack to be funded by a foreign government for information gathering purposes only.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon stated the financial giant will spend $250m a year on security. However, he cited employee retention as an issue. Competing banks regularly vet each other’s employees, including IT security experts and job changes are becoming an increasingly regular part of the post-American exceptionalism world.

Sony – 2014’s Biggest Hack?

The Sony hack is an on-going saga of finger-pointing and international drama possibly implicating an entire country. On November 24 the image “Hacked by #GOP” appeared on Sony’s screens, warning that Sony must obey their demands, or they would release Sony’s top secrets.

The attack started when phone and email services halted in Sony’s New York offices. As a precaution, the entertainment giant shut down Los Angeles locations. Effectively, the entire corporation came to a standstill. Demands reach Sony, claiming to be the Guardians of Peace, telling them to pull the release of The Interview. Over a week later, speculations began to surface that North Korea may be responsible for the attack; retaliation for the recent movie, The Interview, a bumbling comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jung Un cited.

Data released from the hack includes internal scathing reviews of Adam Sandler movies, passports and visas for cast and crew (including Jonah Hill and Angelina Jolie). Film budgets, scripts, confidential contracts, and username and passwords of Sony executives did not escape the attack.

On November 27th, Five Sony films, four that had not yet reached theaters, were dumped online. Brad Pitt’s Fury was downloaded more than 1 million times. Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice and To Write Love On Her Arms, all of which were not yet in theaters, were also part of the dump. Along with the pre-bonus salaries of 17 Sony executives and 6,000 current and former employees are leaked. Sony hired FBI security firm, SealMandiant, to investigate.

Researchers have linked malware used in the Sony attack to malware previously attributed to cyber attacks by North Korea.  In a response from President Obama, Sony decides to release the film Christmas Day. After hackers retaliate, threatening violence against the theaters showing the film, Sony releases the film online for download.

Images from Shutterstock, Dell SecureWorks, IBM, and Siliconangle.

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Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet



Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility



Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop



It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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