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February: Statfor hacked, Anonymous hands emails to Wikileaks
Loose-knitted hacking collective Anonymous successfully attacked Stratfor, a private U.S. intelligence firm, and swiped around five million emails. The data was then handed to Wikileaks for later publication. The email cache included invoices and details of sources connected to news media outlets, and employees of governments located around the world.
Once the full email cache was released, a controversy began when a number of Western Allied governments were accused of using TrapWire surveillance software. It was an overblown fear, not quite the 'global network of cameras' as suggested by a number of media outlets, but was nonetheless a potentially liberty-infringing network.
March: Global Payments hacked; MasterCard, Visa customers affected
MasterCard and Visa customers were warned after a massive data breach that affected more than 1.5 million credit and debit card owners. While a hacker initially claimed responsibility for the data breach, it was quickly debunked by a source within the banking industry speaking to ZDNet.
Global Payments, the company that was hit by the data breach, explained that only credit card numbers -- not names, addresses, or Social Security numbers -- but would ultimately cost the card processing firm around $84 million to clean up.
April: Anonymous attack Chinese Web sites, defense contracts stolen
A hacker associated with hacktivist collective Anonymous posted thousands of internal documents claimed to be associated with the Chinese government, most notably defense contracts signed by the country.
By hacking the Beijing-based China National Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC), the hacker was able to acquire and publish a range of contracts and business memos linked to the U.S. military, including many relating to the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. The CEIEC denied the claims and called them "groundless" and "defamatory."