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In a Dec. 26 statement, the hackers promised to “expropriate” more than $500,000 from the company’s “bigshot clients,” posting: “You didn’t think we’d let 2011 end without a BANG, did you?”

“We’re not one of those people,” said Mrs. Chase, a middle-school teacher. “It’s not us. We were hit hard with the economy.”

Cybersecurity experts see no end in sight to these kinds of attacks.

“2011 has been the year of the breach,” Mr. Titus said. “One thing I hope is that companies understand from this, you need to get rid of information that you don’t need.

“Sensitive information is a liability, not an asset. If you absolutely must keep it, encrypt it securely, and get rid of anything unnecessary.”