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No end in sight for data breaches

by Neal O'Farrell on July 16th, 2010

June saw no let-up in the number of data breaches across the country, or in the number of consumers who had their personal data exposed or stolen.

Health insurer WellPoint just announced that it had to inform 470,000 of its customer that their personal data, including medical records and credit card numbers, might have been exposed to hackers because of faulty programming.

And this is not the first time WellPoint has had to admit it has exposed patients and customers to security risks. In 2008 the company admitted that the personal information of 128,000 customers had been exposed online. And in 2006, thieves stole backup tapes containing information on 200,000 patients.

Also this month, Pennsylvania State University informed 15,806 individuals that a computer containing their Social Security numbers had been quietly communicating with a bot – a network of hijacked computers usually installed and operated by hackers.

Digital River, one of the world’s biggest eCommerce sites for software vendors, had more troubling news. In court documents, the company admitted that a contractor may have helped a 19-year-old hacker to steal the personal information of 200,000 customers. The hacker is alleged to have tried to then sell the stolen information to marketing companies for half a million dollars.

One of the most troubling facts in most of these and other security failures is that the breaches involved either mistakes by insiders or contractors, or deliberate thefts by insiders.

Security glitch exposes WellPoint data again

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