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The worst security snafus of 2012 – so far

Ellen Messmer | July 16, 2012
Could things really be this bad? From the embarrassing hack of a conversation between the FBI and Scotland Yard to a plethora of data breaches, security snafus have ruled the first half of 2012. Here's a look at some of the worst snafus month-by-month.


The Federal Communication Commission fined Google $25,000, asserting the search-engine giant impeded an investigation into how Google collected data while taking photos for its Street View mapping feature. The FCC maintained in a report that Google "deliberately impeded and delayed" the investigation for months by not responding to requests for information and documents. But the FCC also said it won't take action against Google over its data collection because it still has questions it wants answered. The FCC had subpoenaed an unnamed Google engineer -- now known to be Marius Milner -- but he had apparently declined to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against incriminating himself.

Other April snafus:

" Hactivist group Anonymous brought down the websites of trade groups U.S. Telecom Association and TechAmerica, apparently for their support of the cybersecurity bill proposed by Rep. Mike Rogers that would allow the private companies and the government to share any information "directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to" a computer network. Privacy advocates, including the ACLU and Center for Democracy and technology, contend the bills shreds privacy protections.

" A U.S. grand jury charged two residents of China with 46 criminal counts, including infringing software copyrights and illegally exporting technology to China, for allegedly operating a website that sold pirated software used in engineering, manufacturing, space exploration, aerospace simulation and design, and other fields, with a commercial value of other $100 million. Xiang Li, 35, was earlier arrested by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Chun Yan Li remains at large. Both face charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

" A 31-year-old Russian national living in New York, Petr Murmylyuk, was charged with hacking into accounts at Fidelity, Scottrade, E*Trade and Schwab in a complex scheme that involved making unauthorized trades that profited the gang he recruited to open bank accounts to receive the illegal proceeds. The brokerage firms said they lost $1 million because of Murmylyuk's fraud.

" VMware's ESX source code was stolen and posted online, but VMware said the code, amounting to a single file from sometime around 2003 or 2004, doesn't mean any increased risk to VMware customers. Security firm Kaspersky said it believes the code was stolen from a Chinese company called China Electronics Import & Export Corporation during a March breach.

" A terminal at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport was shut down for more than an hour on April 27 after officials discovered that a baby hadn't been properly screened. The baby in question had been handed back and forth between the parents after a metal detector went off sounding an alarm with the mother holding the baby. The father had already gone through the screening, and the parents and baby left the checkpoint to head to the gate. But Transportation Security Administration officials decided to "err on the side of caution" to shut down the terminal and go locate the baby to make sure it went through screening. Some passengers that had already boarded flights said they had to evacuate it and go through security screening again. Speaking of the TSA, one of the agency's critics, security expert Bruce Schneier, who is involved in a lawsuit with the agency to get them to stop the TSA's full-body scanner program, had been invited to testify before Congress about the TSA but the House Committee on Oversight and Government Report then "uninvited" Schneier last March after the TSA formally complained about him, obviously preferring not to be challenged directly by him right in front of Congress.


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