Nowadays, we hear about hackers getting into systems that were previously thought to be secure more and more often for a great many reasons, which made us really interested in seeing what the 17 biggest data breaches of all time are.
So what is a data breach? Well, a data breach is a security incident that involves the public release of secure or confidential information, usually in untrusted environments like the dark web. There are several types of data breaches, such as unintentional disclosures, data leaks or data spills. They differ in who the perpetrator was and how the data was released into the wild, as well as the reasons for it. Some are, of course, accidental, while others are intentional.
Data breach statistics indicate that such problems are more and more frequent due to a lack of rigor when it comes to securing networks of all kinds, whether we’re talking about email providers, financial institutions or telcos. Not only do these data breaches affect a company’s image, but they almost always result in a drop in revenue and stock prices, and often end in people filing lawsuits against them, which they have to pay off with tens of millions of dollars.
Although we’re not nearly done with this year just yet, the 2017 data breaches list is still extensive, with a lot of prominent companies on it, from Snapchat, to VKontake, to the Red Cross and now Uber.
The number of companies hacked in 2016, however, doesn’t “seem” to be very large, although the number of records that landed online due to them is. Although MySpace is far from what it used to be, some hacker claimed that it had over 360 million records of users. The list of the biggest data breaches of 2016 continues with VK, the Russian version of Facebook, where a hacker put up for sale data on over 100 million users.
So, in order to create our list of recent data breaches, we scoured the net for a proper database that holds all the info we need, which is otherwise scattered in a million news reports all over the internet. We found an infographic from informationisbeautiful that’s updated frequently and includes all types of breaches, from hacks to data that’s accidentally published.
In our list you’ll find the data ranked by the number of records that were exposed in the breach, regardless of how the data got out. The financial impact of these breaches is difficult to assess because companies lose money on the stock market, they lose money in advertising, and they lose money in justice courts when paying off those suing them. Yahoo, for instance, lost about $350 million in its sale to Verizon following the disclosure of its data breaches from 2013 and 2014 back in November and December of 2016, but there are also fines and lawsuits going on, plus all the people dropping the company’s services, which also translates into lost revenue, so the issue is extremely complicated. Therefore, you’ll notice our list is ranked by the number of records affected by the breach. For an alternative look at this topic, don’t miss our list of the 10 Biggest Data Breaches of All Time.
Now then, check out the 17 biggest data breaches of all time, beginning on the next page.