What is Data Breach?

A data breach is an incident in which subtle, private or otherwise protected data has been accessed and/or revealed in an unlawful way. Data breaches may involve personal health information, business secrets or intellectual property, while common data break revelations include personal information, such as credit card numbers. If anyone who is not exactly sanctioned to do so views such data, the organization responsible for shielding that information is said to have suffered a data breach. If a data breach leads to identity theft and/or a breach of government or industry compliance dictates, the aberrant organization may face fines or other civil litigation.

10 Biggest Data Breaches of the 21st Century

Here is a list of 10 of the biggest data breaches of the 21st century.

1. Yahoo

Occurred in 2013-14, the biggest data breach in history that affected the once dominant internet behemoth, Yahoo, affected 3 billion user accounts while the latter was in the middle of negotiations to see itself to Verizon. A staggering 500 million users were affected by the breach. The breaches knocked a projected $350 million off Yahoo’s sale price, while Verizon finally paid $4.48 billion for Yahoo’s main Internet business. Founded in 1994, Yahoo had once been estimated at $100 billion; following the sale, the company changed its name to Altaba, Inc.

2. Aadhar

In 2018, nearly one billion records, including name, address and other key information were affected in Aadhaar breach event. According to company’s Breach Level Index, nearly one billion data records have been uncovered in India since 2013. The index is a global database of public data breaches, exposing 945 data breaches that led to 4.5 billion data records that were affected all over the world in the first half of 2018.

3. First American Financial

One of the leading title insurers in the US, First American Financial Corp was sued by a client who claims the company’s slack security procedures put him at risk of identity holdup, along with millions of others whose personal information could be easily accessed through its website. Later, the company closed external access and retained an outside forensic company to find out the degree any customer information might have been affected.

4. eBay

In May 2014, eBay, the online auction colossus, reported a cyberattack that uncovered credentials of all of its 145 million users. According to the company, hackers managed to enter its network using the credentials of three corporate employees. Although eBay asked its customers to change their passwords, it said financial data, such as credit card numbers, was stored discretely and was not affected. At the time, the company was censured poorly communicating with its users and ineffective execution of the password-renewal process.

5. Equifax

One of the largest credit bureaus in the U.S, Equifax, said on Sept. 7, 2017 that an application susceptibility on one of their websites resulted in a data breach that uncovered about 147.9 million consumers. The breach was exposed on July 29, but the company says that it probably began in the middle of May.

6. Heartland Payment Systems 

In January 2009, Visa and MasterCard informed Heartland of doubtful transactions from accounts it had processed. Among the implications were that the company was not permitted to process the payments of major credit card providers until May 2009. The company also paid out a projected $145 million in compensation for deceitful payments.

7. Target Stores 

The breach, which actually began prior to Thanksgiving, was not revealed until after many weeks. Target firstly announced that hackers had gained access through a third-party HVAC vender to its point-of-sale payment card readers. However, by January 2014, the company raised that evaluation, reporting that personally identifiable information (PII) of 70 million of its customers had been affected. It’s reported that the breach impacted as many as 110 million customers.

8. TJX Companies, Inc.

There are contradictory accounts about how the breach occurred in this company. One presumes that a group of hackers benefitted from a weak data encryption system and pilfered credit card data during a wireless transfer between two Marshall’s stores in Miami, Florida. Albert Gonzalez, hacking guru and instigator of the Heartland breach, was convicted in 2010 of leading the gang of thieves who pilfered the credit cards, and sentenced to 20 years in prison, while 11 others were arrested.

9. Uber

In late 2016, Uber got to know that two hackers managed to get credentials of 57 users of the Uber app, while obtaining the driver license numbers of 600,000 Uber drivers. Reportedly, no other data such as credit card or Social Security numbers were stolen. The breach is thought to have cost Uber greatly both in terms of reputation and financial losses.

10. JP Morgan Chase 

In 2014, JP Morgan, America’s largest bank, became the victim of a hack that compromised the data of more than half of all US families. The data included all important credentials as well as internal information about the users, with the bank saying no customer money had been stolen. Nonetheless, the hackers managed to get hold of “root” privileges on more than 90 of the bank’s servers.

Why Do Data Breaches Occur?

Here are some of the reasons why data breaches take place.

Old, Unpatched Security Susceptibilities

Information security experts have been collecting information on the manipulations that hackers have effectively used on companies in a number of countries. These activities are organized into hundreds of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) to recognize them for future reference. Nevertheless, many of these security susceptibilities go unsettled for long periods of time. Leaving these old security susceptibilities variable gives hackers a free pass to your company’s most delicate information.

Human Error

Regrettably, one of the major sources of a data breach is caused by human error. The precise nature of the error may differ, but some situations include the use of frail passwords, sending subtle information to the wrong beneficiaries, and falling for phishing scams. Many of these human mistakes can be barred by ensuring employees know their basic data security measures.


Malware is an ever-expanding menace aimed directly at an organization’s systems. According to research, malware events take place every second. While many of these events are inconsequential in nature, the sheer number of these events can be perturbing. Also, there is an unbelievable amount of difference between malware samples.

Insider Misappropriation

While strictly connected to human error, this cause of company data is more sinister in nature. Human error infers an innocuous accident or error. On the other hand, insider misuse is the thoughtful misuse of your company’s systems by an official user, typically for personal advantage.

Physical Theft of a Data-Carrying Device

One of the most sensitive is the physical theft of a device that has an organization’s sensitive information, including laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, hard drives, thumb drives, CDs & DVDs, or even servers. The severity of a data break from a pilfered device relies largely on the nature of the information stored on the device. More sensitive information usually equals a plainer data breach if the device is pinched without being wiped.

What do criminals do with my data?

Here are a few reasons why hackers want to steal your data.

Data Ransom

Every so often, hackers want to snip your data so that they can hold it for ransom. This type of attack is a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks are one of the most prevalent cyber-attacks, with a whopping rate of 250 attacks in just 2017. Hackers typically perform ransomware attacks by acquiring unlawful access to data, then encoding it or moving it and charging a ransom in order to restore your access to it. The best way to stop ransomware attacks is to ensure that access to data is limited by strong access controls.

Identify Theft

Data breaches like the 3 billion accounts’ worth of data at Yahoo! are intended to steal personal information. Attackers can then misuse that information to break into other accounts, with the aim to steal identities. As an end-user, the best way to defend yourself against this risk is to avoid using the same password for manifold accounts, so that if an attacker steals your password for one service, they are incapable of using it to break into another one. Meanwhile, if you are an organization that is responsible for supervising data that could be used for identity theft, you can alleviate the risk of identity theft by fighting the lure to collect needless personal information.

Stealing Infrastructure

Since servers and storage are costly, some hackers want to break into your systems so that they can store data and host requests on your infrastructure, instead of paying for their own. One way to alleviate the risk of this type of attack is to evade revealing infrastructure to the public internet unless needed. If hackers are unable to view how much infrastructure you have, it’s less likely that they want to take control of it.

Just Because

Some hackers only want to steal your data just to prove that they can. They are not driven by financial advantage, access to free resources or the capability to steal your users’ identities. The greater your company’s standing, the more alluring it is for attackers to show that they overwhelmed your security measures. There is no specific way to respond to these types of attackers. You only need to follow data security best practices in general.

Best Practices to protect your company against a data breach

According to reports, human or process error is largely responsible for 4 out of 5 data breaches. Therefore, it’s imperative to avoid any harmful areas of negligence that can lead to breaches. Here is how you can keep your company safe in these ways:

Train Your Employee

Train your staff and enlighten them about cybersecurity. You are also advised to carry out routine security and privacy training.

Protect the Data

All sensitive data should be safeguarded, irrespective of whether or not that data is used. Even when disposing of stowage, the data it contains should be tattered for additional protection.

Implement Strong Passwords

Implement using strong passwords company-wide and schedule password changes at least every 6 months.

Monitor Data and Its Transfer

Monitoring and following the transfer of data through the company will stop the data from being distorted or exploited.

Limit Access

Restrict the access to certain systems by people who are not linked to the department, and ensure that sensitive data is dealt with only by relevant specialists.

Patch Vulnerabilities

Outdated software and unattended susceptibilities are often the course of data breaches and should be repaired in a timely and effective matter.

Encrypt Devices and Data

Businesses should never allow devices or data that are not encrypted, as they’re more likely to be attacked by hackers and cybercriminals.

Boost Network Security

Since your employees may be providing hackers with an access route to your web servers without knowing, you must ensure that users change their passwords occasionally. You can also use data encoding to enhance security. Data encoding will stop cyberthieves from using malevolent software to gain easy access to data passing from one computer to another.

Install Reliable Security Applications

Security applications may not be as effective as website application firewalls, but they can still prevent hackers from your site. Installing security plugins on your WordPress blog or website can shield your site from malicious bots, which spy the Internet.

Set up a Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) exist between your web server and each data linking. For a comparatively low monthly subscription, it is likely to install a cloud-based WAF. This application can block all efforts to hack into your servers and filter out unwelcome traffic from spammers.

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