Top 10 Most Infamous Data Breaches

Top 10 Most Infamous

Data Breaches


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Top 10 Most Infamous Data Breaches

Data breaches have become a harsh reality in our digital age. But what exactly is a data breach? It’s an incident where sensitive or confidential information is accessed by unauthorised individuals. This information can include personal details like names, addresses, Social Security numbers, financial data, or even medical records.

Millions of individuals and businesses have been impacted by these security failures, exposing them to financial losses, reputational damage, and even identity theft. Let’s look into ten of the most infamous data breaches that shook the world, what are the most common data breaches, and how to avoid them in this article.

Biggest data breaches in history 

1. Yahoo (2013-2014)

Holding the record for the most affected users (over 3 billion!), Yahoo suffered multiple breaches exposing names, email addresses, phone numbers, and even security questions. This massive compromise highlighted the importance of strong password practices and data encryption.

2. First American Financial Corporation (2019)

This breach exposed the personal information of over 885 million individuals, including Social Security numbers and bank account details. The leak originated from a flaw in a third-party vendor used by First American, highlighting the importance of supply chain security.

3. Adult FriendFinder Networks (2016)

This breach exposed sensitive data from over 412 million user accounts, including names, locations, and self-described sexual orientations. The breach raised concerns about data privacy on adult entertainment platforms.

4. Facebook (2019)

Over 540 million Facebook users were affected by a breach that exposed private information like names, locations, and phone numbers. The data was reportedly scraped from third-party apps, raising questions about Facebook’s responsibility for user data security.

5. Target (2013)

Hackers infiltrated Target’s point-of-sale systems, compromising the payment information of over 40 million customers. This breach exposed vulnerabilities in physical security and data encryption practices.

6. MySpace (2013)

This breach, affecting over 360 million user accounts, exposed email addresses and passwords. While MySpace was already declining in popularity at the time, it served as a reminder of the long-lasting impact of data breaches.

7. LinkedIn (2012)

Over 117 million LinkedIn user credentials were leaked online. This breach demonstrated the value of professional networking data for cybercriminals and the importance of robust password security on professional platforms.

8. Adobe (2013)

Hackers accessed Adobe’s servers, compromising the data of over 150 million users. This breach included names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords, highlighting the need for continuous security updates.

9. Aadhaar (2017-2018)

India’s national identification database, Aadhaar, was breached, exposing sensitive information of over a billion citizens. This incident sparked debates about government data collection practices and the need for robust security measures.

10. Equifax (2017)

A data breach at Equifax, a credit reporting agency, exposed the personal information of over 147 million Americans, including Social Security numbers. This breach highlighted the risks associated with centralised data storage and the importance of consumer protection regulations.

These are just a few examples of the devastating impact data breaches can have. By understanding the risks and taking proactive steps to protect our data, we can navigate the digital world more securely.

Common Types of Data Breaches

Data breaches can occur in various ways, but four main categories encompass most incidents:

  • Ransomware 

Imagine being locked out of your own computer, with all your files encrypted and inaccessible. This is the chilling reality of ransomware attacks. Hackers deploy malicious software that encrypts your data, demanding a ransom payment to unlock it.

  • Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, is a broad term encompassing various programs designed to harm your device or steal your data. Malware can be disguised as legitimate software downloads, infect your device through compromised websites, or even be hidden in seemingly harmless attachments.

  • Phishing

Phishing attacks are like digital fishing expeditions. Hackers try to lure you into giving away your personal information or clicking on malicious links. They often disguise themselves as legitimate sources like banks, social media platforms, or even trusted colleagues.

  • Physical Loss

Data breaches can also occur due to the physical loss of data storage devices like laptops or hard drives. If these devices are not properly secured with encryption, anyone who finds them can access the data.

By understanding these different types of data breaches, we can be more vigilant in protecting our information.

How to Avoid Data Breaches?

While data breaches are a constant threat, there are steps you can take to minimise your risk:

1. Fortress Your Passwords:

    • Create Strong Passwords: Don’t use birthdays, pet names, or dictionary words. Make them lengthy (at least 12 characters) and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
    • Uniquify Everything: Avoid reusing passwords across different accounts. If one site gets breached, hackers might try that password on others.
    • Consider a Password Manager: These tools generate and store strong, unique passwords for all your accounts, eliminating the need to remember them all.

2. Embrace Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step beyond just your password. This could be a code sent to your phone, a fingerprint scan, or a security key. Even if your password is compromised, hackers would still need this additional factor to gain access.

3. Beware of Phishing Attempts:

      • Scrutinise Emails and Links: Don’t click on links or attachments from suspicious emails, even if they appear to be from legitimate sources like banks or social media platforms. Hover over links to see the real destination URL before clicking.
      • Be Wary of Urgent Requests: Phishing emails often create a sense of urgency to pressure you into acting without thinking. If something feels suspicious, don’t hesitate to contact the sender directly through a verified channel.

4. Be Mindful of Public Wi-Fi:

      • Avoid Sensitive Activities on Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. If you must use one, avoid accessing financial accounts, online banking, or entering sensitive information.
      • Consider a VPN for Public Wi-Fi: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic, making it much harder for hackers to steal your data on public Wi-Fi.

5. Implement Strong Cybersecurity Measures:

    • Utilise robust cybersecurity measures: endpoint protection, web protection, patch management, email protection, mobile device management. However to avoid managing multiple security solutions, use a unified platform such as Armourzero.
    • Update Applications and Browsers: Outdated applications and browsers might have security flaws. Regularly update them to minimise risks.

Protect your organisation from cybercrime and cyber threats today with just one click!

Check out our platforms ShieldOne and ScoutTwo, and request a demo to learn more.

You can also contact our sales team to help you choose the right cybersecurity services for your business.

Fanny Fajarianti - Performance Marketing at ArmourZero

Written by: 

Fanny Fajarianti (Performance Marketing). Experienced digital marketer in the information technology and services industry.

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