Four of the Biggest Data Breaches of the 21st Century and What We Can Learn from Them

October 2019

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we hear about data breaches in the news almost daily. In recent years, the frequency and scope of high-profile cyber-attacks have grown to include some of the largest and most seemingly secure businesses and organizations.

Let’s explore a few of the most famous data breaches of the 21st century, along with the important lessons they’ve taught us about security. From there, we can gain a better understanding of how to keep sensitive information safe in today’s online environment.

1. Equifax

One of the biggest data breaches in recent history occurred in July of 2017 when Equifax—one of the largest credit reporting bureaus in the country—was hacked. Some of the sensitive information that was leaked included:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Home Addresses
  • Birth Dates
  • Drivers’ License Numbers
  • Credit Card Data

This particular attack was eventually traced back to a vulnerability in one of Equifax’s web pages. Unfortunately, by the time the problem was discovered, it was too late, and the personal information of more than 140 million people was compromised.

2. Target

Target is one of the nation’s largest retailers, but that didn’t keep this retail giant from falling victim to a devastating security breach in December of 2013. During this time, sensitive information from more than 100 million shoppers was compromised when hackers gained access to the store’s POS payment readers. From there, the hackers were successful in collecting nearly 40 million credit card numbers.

In addition to payment information, other sensitive data was collected, including:

  • Telephone Numbers
  • Email Addresses
  • Full Names
  • Home Addresses

This data breach had an enormous impact on Target’s reputation and cost the company more than $160 million.

3. Yahoo

The infamous Yahoo data breach of 2013 to 2014 affected more than 500 million users—and at the time, it was considered to be the largest in history. Later on, it was discovered that this breach was actually made up of two separate attacks by two different groups of hackers. From names and birth dates to email addresses, security questions and answers, and passwords, a great deal of sensitive information was leaked.

After a lengthy investigation, Yahoo announced late in 2017 that every single one of its three billion accounts had been compromised in the attack.

4. eBay

The infamous eBay data breach occurred in May of 2014 and affected nearly 150 million users. It was determined that hackers used corporate employee credentials to get into the company’s network database and obtain the names, addresses, encrypted passwords, and birth dates of users. Fortunately, no payment information was compromised in this attack, but eBay’s reputation was certainly tarnished as a result.

Protecting Your Business from a Data Breach

All of these data breaches have proven that no company or organization, regardless of size, is safe from the threat of a cyber-attack. In fact, it is more important than ever for all establishments to take special security measures in order to protect sensitive information.

One of the best ways to strengthen data security is to use a dedicated server as your web host. ReliableSite offers dedicated hosting with excellent security features, including DDoS protection, data backups, and more. Contact us today to find out more!