Six of The Biggest Data Breaches of All Time


Data Breach Illustrated Photo by - yayimages.com

As the world is going more and more digital with advancing technologies, the criminal world is running fast right on its heels. Cybercriminals are now more commonplace than they were a few decades ago and they keep getting better at picking out vulnerabilities through the wonders of technology.

Cybercrime happens to be the second most reported crime in the economic world and that is really saying something. One of the largest firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey back in 2016 and they found that over 30% of the organizations that took part in their survey admitted that they’ve been victimized by cybercriminals. An even higher percentage expected to be targeted by cybercriminals within the next few years. Just over a third of these companies said that they are prepared to respond(link to how to prepare for cyber attack) to these problems.

Considering these facts, it only makes sense that there is a widespread denial about the severity of cybercrime. From being something that a few misbehaved teenagers who are tech savvy trying to change their dorm room allotment, cybercrime has come a long way to being a sophisticated and elaborate network of worldwide syndicates. There is theft of crucial personal data, passwords and other sensitive information which can be utilized by the cybercriminals in order to blackmail, (ransomware), extort and scam consumers. Previously, we discussed methods to prevent data breaches. Now, we will discuss some of the worst incidents of cybercrime that have targeted consumers businesses and even governments. Hopefully, this will give you a measure of the scale of the problem and why being in denial is not going to be helpful for very long.

Credit Card Data Theft of 50 Million Users From Home Depot in 2014

One of America’s largest retail stores, Home Depot saw its system hacked and data stolen from their servers. This resulted in the theft of credit card information of over 50 million Home Depot customers and consumers.

The hackers made use of one of the vendor’s information in order to get access to the system. Once they were in, they utilized malware by installing it on the POS systems. As a result of this, the customers who were buying from Home Depot using their cards were also giving away all the information that the cybercriminals needed from their cards.

Yahoo Data Breach from 2013 to 2016

The September of 2016 saw Yahoo make the announcement that it had been a victim of data breaches of massive proportions on at least two different occasions. The first one was back in 2013 which saw the data of over a billion Yahoo users exposed to the cybercriminals. The fact that it took them so long to come to accept and admit the fact that they suffered from the data breach can still possibly land them in serious trouble. Another breach saw the data of over 500 million users being exposed in 2014.

In fact, the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission is currently investigating Yahoo for not having reported the cybercrime incident even though it was mandated in 2011 to report any such instances to them.

Social Security Number Theft from IRS in 2015

2015 saw the United States Internal Revenue Service’s servers hacked and the social security numbers of over 700,000 people being stolen along with some more highly sensitive information. The reports say that hackers managed to utilize the IRS program called Get Transcript in order to hack into their system. The software is a tool which allows people to access their tax history online.

To add insult to injury the cybercriminals had been actually using stolen social security numbers in order to file for refunds fraudulently - $227 million fraudulent refunds were claimed in the 2016 tax season.

Government Data Breach Due to Old Technology

The US Office of Personnel Management saw one of the largest data breaches for government data in the history of the country back in 2016. This breach saw the records of over 2.5 million people become exposed to cybercriminals.

There was a lot of information of sensitive nature that was exposed in this hacking incident which included the likes of birthplace, names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, financial details and even fingerprints of some people that had been undertaking background checks. A report published in September of 2016 stated that this hack was the cause of the government using outdated technology for its systems. This made the data a lot more vulnerable to the advancing cybercriminals than it should have been.

Corporate Servers of Google Hacked in China in 2009

2009 saw hackers gain access to multiple Google servers located in China. They managed to get away with a lot of sensitive intellectual property among more information. The company said that the hackers had the preliminary goal of getting access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

2013 saw the US government stating that Chinese hackers had gained access to a database with sensitive information about court orders that authorized the surveillance of Chinese agents with Gmail accounts. Microsoft claimed that their servers were also targeted by Chinese hackers around the same time the Google servers in China were hacked.

July of 2016 WikiLeaks and the Democratic National Committee

2016 saw the infamous/famous (depending on your point of view) whistleblower website WikiLeaks published a series of sensitive emails which had been taken from the servers of the Democratic National Committee. These emails contained private correspondences between officials including the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and information about donors for Clinton’s election campaign.

The Democratic National Committee chairman resigned as a direct result of this hack. There is an indication from the intelligence agencies that Russian hackers were behind the WikiLeaks publishing of sensitive data which some say had a direct effect on the outcome of the elections. President Donald Trum p doubts any legitimacy to Russia’s involvement in this breach, as well as Julian Assuage (WikiLeaks founder) stating that it was not Russia as their source.


Posted On August 23, 2018