Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sony Not the First or Last Company to Experience Data Breach


Sony is busy restoring the PlayStation Network to a useable level after hackers gained access and stole personal data from 100 million users including credit card numbers. The PlayStation Network has been offline for almost a month. Analysts believe the breach will cost Sony around $1 billion, which would make it one of the most expensive cyberattacks in history. In an effort to thank customers, and perhaps retain users, the company has even offered free video games and other services as incentives. While the breach is a huge blow to Sony and the customers, it is not the first major hacking of information from a large company.

MasterCard International 2005

In summer 2005, 40 million credit card numbers were stolen from a processing center in Tucson, Ariz., operated by CardSystems Solutions. Once the breach became public, MasterCard accused CardSystems of meeting previously specified computer security standards. In this particular attack, no personal data, such as social security numbers and birthdates, was compromised.

Epsilon 2011

Earlier this year, Epsilon, a company used by businesses to send emails to customers, was hacked. The cyberthieves received access to millions of customer names and email addresses. Because Epsilon has more than 2,500 clients and sends billions of emails a year, the information could be used by thieves to send emails to customers of businesses like: Best Buy, Capitol One, TiVo, and Marriott Rewards. Fortunately, the stolen information was limited to names and/or email addresses.

Heartland Payment Systems 2009

In 2009 hackers gained access to Heartland Payment Systems. The computer in question handled a large volume of transactions. Because the breach occurred for a long period of time by use of spying software, thieves were able to steal as many as 100 million credit and debit card numbers. Heartland Payment Systems wound up paying about $140 million in fines.

TJX 2007

In 2007 hackers stole millions of credit card numbers from TJX. TJX is the owner of large retail chains Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Some of the stolen card numbers were used to purchase millions of dollars in electronics from other retailers. Thieves were able to gain access to wireless transfers and the account numbers that went along with them; the intrusion went undetected for at least a year and half.

Jason Gallagher is a former travel professional and long-time Pennsylvania resident. These experiences give him a first-hand look at developing situations in the state and everything included in the travel industry from technology to trends.

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