Hacker Heaven: 5 Huge Data Security Breaches from 2013

Jan 01, 2014 11:57 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma (j.ecarma@autoworldnews.com)

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At least 70 million Target customers were affected in the recent data leak. (Photo : Reuters)

In the Internet age, nothing is sacred and apparently none of your personal information is safe. 2013 was a red-letter year for hackers, who ruthlessly leaked everything from Facebook passwords to credit card information to the private limo rides of celebrities.

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Keeping in mind that some 600 data theft incidents were publicly reported in 2013, here are five of the year's notable security breaches.

1. The Target Fiasco

More than 40 million debit and credit cards were compromised in a major data breach at Target that started with Black Friday deals on Nov. 27 and ended around Dec. 15.

Experts say people should continue to watch their cards closely.

"This could be something that hits your card months from now, so you need to continue to be vigilant," said Yaron Samid, chief executive officer of BillGuard, a company that offers a free service monitoring credit and debit cards for unusual activity.

Samid advised not to look necessarily for big charges but for smaller ones, ranging from $1 to $1,000. Smaller charges are less likely to be noticed and disputed compared with larger ones.

2. Donald Trump's Limo Ride

A limousine software company that helps provide service to top celebrities was hacked, revealing credit card details and potentially embarrassing records of exactly what happened in the back of the limo, The Associated Press reported in November.

Blogger Brian Krebs, who works with Hold Security, reported the breach on his website. Some examples of potentially sensitive or embarrassing information include a trip that Tom Hanks made to a Chicago restaurant; a partial travel itinerary for basketball star LeBron James; and a limo specification for clear front seating from Donald Trump.

3. Too-Public Social Media

Social networks across the board had security issues this year.

More than 2 million Facebook, Twitter and Google passwords became public record in December, according to a research firm's report that uncovered the logins while sweeping for malware.

SpiderLabs, a research branch of security firm Trustwave, found the valuable and often ridiculously simple passwords while scanning the Internet for the Pony botnet controller, NBC reported.

This week, hackers revealed usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million Snapchat users, which are often tweens and teenagers.

4. The Twitter Effect

When a tweet sent through the Associated Press Twitter account said that President Barack Obama had been injured, stock markets dropped 1 percent in just a few seconds, according to Bloomberg.

Hackers had infiltrated the account to tweet the false report, which the AP's corporate communications team followed up minutes later with the message: "That is a bogus @AP tweet."

5. Big Brother

The National Security Agency's work doesn't exactly count as a hacking job, but Americans definitely felt that their privacy was violated this year.

The first leak from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden hit the world in June, revealing that Verizon was ordered to turn over the phone records of millions of Americans, according to The Daily Dot.

The latest on the NSA's spying habits came this week. Leaked documents have revealed that Apple's iPhone has a software system giving the government total access to contact lists, text messages, calls and even the phone's camera.

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