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December 28, 2012

Hacker's Previous Hit on Verizon Exploits Possible Weaknesses in its Computer Network

By Daniel Brecht, Contributing Writer

A hacker by the name of TibitXimer claimed to have stolen information from millions of Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) cellular customers months ago (July 12) and informed Verizon of the incident. But when inaccuracies in which of Verizon’s departments was affected, the weight of the report wavered a little.

TibitXimer declared the broadband giant failed to immediately respond to a bug report that he had sent in himself to warn Verizon to fix the vulnerability in its network. He says even months after the breach in network security occurred, Verizon has yet to fix the security holes.

Having identified a weakness in Verizon’s network and lack of security to safeguarding and protecting clientele information, TibitXimer decided to go on Twitter (News - Alert) to tell ZDNet how he leaked Verizon accounts: By simply gaining access to the company’s server, he was able to download sensitive and personal data of several account records that were contained on the national carrier’s database.

The hacker pointed out how easy it was to break-in and retrieve personal data stored in plain text, unencrypted, seriously affecting consumer and customer privacy and security.

Verizon ignored his report about the hacking incident and chose not to alert all those clients affected by it.

But after news spread that the hack to Verizon Wireless was proven untrue, TibitXimer turned around and revised his story, broadcasting on Twitter and making new statements saying the incident in truth belonged to Verizon FiOS customers.

Verizon's spokesperson Alberto Canal said in a statement to ZDNet that TibitXimer’s story is inaccurate, incorrect and exaggerated. He did not deny the hack that occurred back in July, but claimed none of the Verizon systems were breached; it was only the result of information copied from a third-party marketer which had “made a mistake,” the firm said – and the incident hit far fewer individuals than originally reported.

Alberto also clarified how the company took the necessary steps to ensure the same security flaw does not happen again. He explained Verizon did take the necessary action to fix network insecurities and have notified proper authorities (to launch an investigation), and those individuals who could potentially have been affected by the incident.

Regardless of who is telling the entire truth, Verizon or the hacker, the public may never know the real story of what took place on July 12 and thereafter. What is certain is that the FBI is doing a follow-up to the original case; all ongoing TibitXimer statements on Twitter have been suspended, and according the words of Alberto Canal, Verizon does what it can to safeguard their information and privacy; “[taking] any attempts to violate consumer and customer privacy and security very seriously." 

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Edited by Braden Becker
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