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Five of the Biggest Data Breaches

  • Equifax
  • Yahoo
  • Adult Friend Finder
  • eBay
  • Sony

Data breeches can cost corporations millions of dollars. From hospital IT systems held ransom to stolen credit card information, hackers cause serious damage when they gain access to a network. The corporate world is slowly realizing the need for serious data protection plans led by trained data scientists and IT experts. Here are five of the biggest data breeches in recent history and how they impacted the targeted companies.

Equifax

The 2017 Equifax breech was so damaging it got its own page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website. As a credit bureau, Equifax had highly sensitive consumer information on record, including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and birthdates. Over 140 million consumers were affected. Hackers can use the information they stole to open credit lines in victims’ names. Equifax is encouraging consumers to check their credit report regularly to look for suspicious activity and to consider a security freeze to protect accounts. For now, no one knows who was responsible for the hacking or what the people responsible intend to do with the information they acquired.

Yahoo

The biggest data breach ever was announced in 2016. Tech company Yahoo announced that 3 billion accounts had been compromised, with hackers gaining access to email addresses, dates of birth and names of many users. Security questions and answers were also uncovered. Yahoo never recovered from the announcement and was eventually sold off to several companies for a fraction of its original value.

Adult Friend Finder

Lives were ruined after this adult-oriented network was breached. Multiple sites under the Friend Finder umbrella had names, email addresses and passwords accessed by hackers. The information was publicly released, leading to many tense conversations over the dinner table. One of the sites involved was Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people looking to cheat on their spouses. Several celebrities, including reality television star Josh Duggar, were disgraced when their participation in the site was revealed.

eBay

In 2014, hackers stole log-in credentials from three corporate employees at eBay. Then, they stole the names, addresses, dates of birth and passwords from every single user on the site. All told, the hackers got information on 145 million users. Financial information was not compromised, but users were still upset, with many leaving the site temporarily. Now, the internet giant is still the first stop for online auctions. Hopefully its security practices have improved.

Sony

The PlayStation Network was hit by a huge data breech in 2011. Unknown hackers secured the names, addresses, log-in information and phone numbers of almost 100 million users. To make matters worse, they also got credit card information from almost 25,000 users. The PlayStation Network went offline for almost a month following the attack as Sony scrambled to clean up the mess. Ultimately, the company spent almost $200 million recovering. Some of that went towards defending against class-action lawsuits; Sony has agreed to pay $15 million to settle one of the suits.

Individuals can take steps to keep their data safe by using password managers and unique log-in information for every website. Ultimately, though, corporations must take responsibility for preventing massive data breeches or face the wrath of consumers.

Related resource:

20 Best Data Science Bachelor’s Degrees


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