Data is currently one of the most sought after information. It is through this data collection that businesses make informed decisions and decide their target markets and customer demographics. However, it is as important to protect this data as it is to collect and analyse it. If this data is compromised it can result in loss in business and privacy. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported as many as 8000 cases of data breach in the past decade. Moreover, this number keeps increasing every day. However, this article will take you through some of the worst data breaches in history.
In 2014, internet giants Yahoo, stated that they had been a victim of one of the worst cases of data breach in recent history. In 2016 Yahoo reported that at least 500 million accounts were hit. Real names, phone numbers, and email IDs of the users were compromised. However, a few months later, Yahoo revised the number to 1 billion people. This was done in 2013 by a different group of hackers. Security questions and answers were also a part of this breach. Finally in 2017 they reported that the actual number was 3 billion. 3 BILLION accounts were hacked by what was addressed as a “state sponsored act.” That’s every single account on Yahoo, Flickr, Tumblr and dozens of other Yahoo-owned online properties had at the time. The breaches knocked an estimated $350 million off Yahoo’s sale price to Verizon.
Equifax was one of America’s largest credit reporting companies. The data breach which occurred almost a year back disclosed personal information of nearly 150 million people from the States and other countries. Even though the breach happened in May 2017, it wasn’t reported until September. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in open-source software Apache Struts “ CVE-2017-5638.
In 2012, the world’s largest business networking sight, LinkedIn was compromised. At that time, password reset notifications only indicated about 6.5 million accounts. However, in 2016, it was learned that the actual number was close to 165 million users. Passwords of 117 million accounts were stolen by a Russian hacker who goes by the name of ‘Peace.’ The hacker was apparently trying to sell it off on dark web for a going rate of $2,300.
Even though the Indian government has taken a strong stance and said that Aadhaar server and biometric data is safe, the Tribune reported that sellers were selling details over Whatsapp for as little as $10 each. You could retrieve anyone’s Aadhar details by paying that sum. An independent investigation revealed that about 1.1 billion Aadhaar details were leaked. However, till now the government has done very little to rectify the security. UIDAI has completely dismissed any claims of this data breach.
- Marriott/Starwood Hotels
Global hotel chain, Marriott reported in November 2018 that personal information of about 500 million guests who stayed in their Starwood properties had been compromised in 2014. This was 2 years before Marriott acquired Starwood. Date of birth, address, passport, mobile number, and gender was part of the leaked information. An undetermined number of guests also had credit-card information stolen.
- Friend Finder
The FriendFinder Network operates several websites such as Adult FriendFinder, Cams.com, iCams.com, Stripshow.com, and Penthouse.com. Sometime in mid-October 2016 the network revealed that private information of more than 400 million of their users was compromised. The most shocking part is that the passwords of the users were encrypted with the weak SHA-1 hashing algorithm. Hackers were able to collect more than 20 years worth of names, emails, and passwords.
By Abhishek Aggarwal