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The Biggest Online Privacy Breaches of the Decade

When it comes to the Internet, many feel secure – perhaps a little too secure. The truth is, privacy and security breaches happen daily. Of course, smaller blogs and websites get hacked based on few security settings, but what about larger companies and organizations? Who experienced a major breach in the past decade?

  1. Heartland Payment Systems – In 2008, 134 million credit cards were exposed due to spyware that was installed on Heartland’s systems. Using SQL injection, a technique that is meant to extract database contents, was the most common form of related attack at the time. In total, three individuals were prosecuted. The mastermind behind this international attack, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Although retailers were warned about this possibility, hackers were still able to retrieve sensitive and personal data.
  1. Sony’s PlayStation Network – In 2011, 77 million PlayStation accounts were hacked. Within the gaming community, this was considered the worst data breach of all-time. Of the accounts that were hacked, as many as 12 million had unencrypted credit card numbers available. Although the source of the attack was never verified, the hacker gained access to home addresses, purchasing history, passwords, full names, payment information, and e-mails.
  1. Google and Other Silicon Valley Companies – In 2009, the Chinese government organized and launched a large attack on Google and dozens of other Silicon Valley companies. Exploiting a weakness in an older version of Internet Explorer, it’s believed that they were trying to gain access to information regarding Chinese human rights activists. Google admitted that some of their intellectual property had been stolen, however, it’s not fully known what data was extracted. This encouraged users to continually update their online browser.
  1. eBay – In 2014, eBay confirmed that their site had been compromised – impacting as many as 145,000 million accounts. This was one of the biggest breaches of all time, placing web users from around the world on edge. Emails and passwords were compromised and although they were encrypted, everyone was asked to change their passwords.

With dozens of other mass hacks and privacy breaches occurring over the past decade, web users need to be aware of the possible risks involved. Since these large corporations and businesses were hacked, you may feel helpless, but that’s not the case. Be aware of the information you’re inputting online, change your passwords often, and avoid using free Wi-Fi when inserting personal data.

Armerding, T. (2012). The 15 Worst Data Security Breaches of the 21st Century. CSO. Retrieved on January 15th, 2016 from http://www.csoonline.com/article/2130877/data-protection/data-protection-the-15-worst-data-security-breaches-of-the-21st-century.html

Epstein, Z. (2014). eBay thought user data was safe, but 145 million accounts were compromised in mass hack. BGR. Retrieved on January 15th, 2016, from http://bgr.com/2014/05/27/ebay-hack-145-million-accounts-compromised/