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Top Hacks 2015

And the beat hacking goes on…

The end of a year brings reflection, as well as a chance to pause and look at our state of security and our growing lack of safety confidence.

Let’s look back at the top hacks of 2015

#1 4.8 million caught up in VTech's weak security

At the top of our list is no other than VTech. Ironic, isn’t it? The toymaker suffered a major breach in late November, with hackers taking 4.8 million records, as well as a database of first names, genders, pictures and birthdays of more than 200,000 kids. The hacker stated in an online interview on motherboard.vice.com: “When I got the [database] dumps, I realized how serious it was.”

#2 Ashley Madison ensnares 37 million cheaters

And the second runner up goes to no other than the infidelity site Ashley Madison. In September 2015 around 37 million people were caught up in the Ashley Madison affair. The site encourages its married users to cheat on their spouses. But the best is yet to come of this story, there is a way to find out if your e-mail was comprised and for the icing on the cake, Avid Life Media is offering a $377K reward for anyone with information on the hackers.

#3 Donald Trump's hotel chain hack hit thousands of hotel visitors

Even presidential candidates aren't immune to hacks. This hack targeted seven of Donald Trump's hotels, and lasted the whole year through snuck malware onto Trump systems, stealing credit card data (including security codes and card numbers) in the firm's hotels across the US. No final figure of how many people affected was ever reported, but it's thought to be in the thousands. Maybe someone needs to look closely into his own security borders.

#4 70 million prison phone records handed to reporters

The database, which the Intercept says was stolen from Securus by a hacker, shows that the company keeps records of every phone call made by the more than 1.2 million inmates who use the service in 37 states, including the time, phone numbers called, inmate names, and even the audio recordings of every call. While the attack in itself is concerning, attorney-confidentiality and questions on prisoners’ rights have raised a great debate.

#5 Thousands of arrestees' data at risk after FBI's portal breached

The old saying: history repeats itself plays out at its best. The same hackers who were able to get access to CIA director John Brennan's private email account also got access to a law enforcement portal used by police and federal agents to share intelligence, and book arrested suspects. It's not clear how many records were in the system -- the FBI declined to comment -- but hundreds of thousands of users are cleared to use the portal. Many of those names were also leaked in the hack. The attack was thought to be one of the widest external breaches of law enforcement this year.

#6 Experian breach hit 15 million T-Mobile customers

The credit agency suffered a breach in September, affecting as many as 15 million T-Mobile customers who underwent credit checks. You read right, data, such as names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, and even passport numbers, may have been taken. Encrypted Social Security numbers may also have been swiped.

#7 More than 22 million government workers now vulnerable to blackmail

Last but not least, the OPM breach, which affected 22.1 million (and counting) could be the single most damaging breach to US national security of all time. Those who have access to some of the most sensitive data in the world had their entire background checks -- conducted by the OPM -- stolen by an unknown assailant. The scary part is that the hacker knows exactly what to do in order to blackmail someone into turning over vast swathes of sensitive or classified data. We have yet to see the repercussions of the breach, but it could harm the US' domestic and foreign diplomatic and intelligence work.

We are hopeful for a more secure 2016 where companies and organizations learn from past vulnerabilities and effectively develop security programs that combat threat and ensure the safety of data and systems. Don’t have a security program in place, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

Nori De Jesus is the Global Director of Marketing for Column Technologies with over 15 years in B2B technology marketing. Today, she is head of corporate marketing programs including PR, strategic planning, product marketing, corporate communications, advertising and corporate branding. Her primary focus areas include cloud computing, cyber security, IT infrastructure technologies and Business Process Management through Case Management technology solutions.

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