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8 Of The Most Serious Security And Data Breaches In Recent History

September 27, 2022
Inkit Team

Cybersecurity is a huge issue these days, with major companies and organizations being hacked almost what seems like regularly. 

In recent years, cyber-attacks have risen dramatically, with major companies and governments falling victim to hackers. According to Purplesec, cybercrime is up 600% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, the world is in a cyberwar, and we need to be prepared. As 9 in 10 security breaches are financially motivated.

To help you stay safe online, we’re going to take a look at some of the most serious security breaches in recent history, the lessons we can learn from them, and how to protect yourself in the future.

First, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest security breaches in recent history, and the lessons we can learn from them all. The security breaches we’ll cover are as follows:

  • 1. Sina Weibo - 2020 User Information 518M Users’ Data Breach
  • 2. Marriott - Fined £18.4M For 2018 500M+ Customer Records Data Breach
  • 3. LinkedIn - 2012 Personal Sensitive User Data Breach Of 100M+ Users
  • 4. Yahoo - 2013 Sensitive User Data Breach Of 3B+ Users
  • 5. Facebook - 2019 User Profile Data Breach Of 533M+ Users
  • 6. Adult Friend Finder - 2016 Sensitive User Data Breach Of 412M+ Users
  • 7. MySpace - 2016 Personal User Data Breach Of 360M+ Users
  • 8. Adobe - 2013 Data Breach Of 152M+ Users
  • Lessons Learned From The Biggest Data And Security Breaches
  • Steps To Take in Case of a Data Or Security Breach

1. Sina Weibo - 2020 User Information 518M Users’ Data Breach

Sina Weibo's logo

In a cyber-attack affecting 518 million users, hackers gained access to passwords, personal information, and contact details stored on the popular Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo. The attackers used a combination of phishing and malware to target employees, giving them access to the company’s systems.

The attack, which happened in March 2020, is one of the top data breaches in recent history. 

The hacker is said to have sold the stolen information on the dark web for only $250, a small price to pay for such a large haul of data. 

Read more about this data breach here.

2. Marriott - Fined £18.4M For 2018 500M+ Customer Records Data Breach

Marriott's logo

In November 2018, hotel giant Marriott announced that hackers had gained access to the personal information of 500 million customers. The attack, which began four years earlier in 2014, exposed a huge amount of sensitive data, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and dates of birth.

The company initially tried to cover up the breach but was eventually forced to come clean after an investigation by the US authorities. Marriott has since been fined 18.4 million pounds for failing to protect customer data. 

You can read more about this data breach here.

3. LinkedIn - 2012 Personal Sensitive User Data Breach Of 100M+ Users

LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner

In 2012, LinkedIn was the victim of a major data breach that affected 100 million users. Hackers gained access to user names, passwords, email addresses, and information on their education and work history.

The attack was made possible by a vulnerability in LinkedIn’s network that allowed hackers to access user data through their web browsers. LinkedIn has since fixed the security flaw and taken steps to improve its overall security. 

Read more about this breach here.

4. Yahoo - 2013 Sensitive User Data Breach Of 3B+ Users

Yahoo's data breach notice

In 2013, Yahoo was hit by two massive data breaches that affected 3 billion users. According to the UK National Cyber Security Center, hackers gained access to user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords. In the second breach, they obtained unencrypted security questions and answers.

The breaches were only discovered in 2016, leading to criticism of Yahoo’s handling of the situation. The attack is considered to be the largest data breach in history.

5. Facebook - 2019 User Profile Data Breach Of 533M+ Users

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg

In April 2019, Facebook announced that hackers had gained access to the personal information of 533 million users. The attack, which took place in July of that year, was made possible by a vulnerability in the social media platform’s code.

The hackers exploited the vulnerability to steal user IDs, phone numbers, names, genders, and dates of birth. The information was later put up for sale on a darknet site in 2021. 

More information on this breach can be found in Business Insider’s post here.

6. Adult Friend Finder - 2016 Sensitive User Data Breach Of 412M+ Users

security button

In October 2016, Adult Friend Finder was the victim of a data breach that affected more than 412 million users. The attackers gained access to user names, email addresses, passwords, dates of birth, and zip codes.

The breach was made possible by a vulnerability in the website’s security systems that allowed hackers to steal information using a simple SQL injection. 

The Washington Post reported the security breach here.

7. MySpace - 2016 Personal User Data Breach Of 360M+ Users

myspace logo

In May 2016, it was revealed that hackers had gained access to the personal information of more than 360 million MySpace users. The attack, which took place in 2013, exposed usernames, passwords, and dates of birth.

The attackers then put up the information for sale on the dark web for 6 BTC or about $3,200 at that time. 

According to USA Today, MySpace has since invalidated all passwords exposed in the breach and taken steps to improve its overall security.

8. Adobe - 2013 Data Breach Of 152M+ Users

adobe logo

In October 2013, Adobe announced that hackers had gained access to the personal information of more than 152 million users. The attack, which took place in September of that year, exposed usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.

Adobe has since taken steps to improve its security systems and has advised customers to change their passwords. 

For more information on this breach, read BBC’s report here.

Lessons Learned From The Biggest Data And Security Breaches

After examining some of the biggest data breaches in recent history, it’s clear that there are a few key lessons to be learned.

Encrypting sensitive user data 

One of the most important lessons is the importance of encrypting sensitive data. In several of the breaches mentioned above, hackers were able to access unencrypted passwords and security questions. 

If this information had been encrypted, it would have been much more difficult for hackers to obtain.

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Role-based access control (see below) is a security system that restricts access to certain parts of a network or application based on the user's role. It can be used to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.

Meanwhile, for more information and steps on how to encrypt your sensitive documents, be sure to read:

Security updates and software patches

Another key lesson is the importance of keeping your software up to date. 

In several of the breaches mentioned above, hackers exploited vulnerabilities in outdated software systems. While software vulnerabilities are some of the most common reasons of security breaches.

By keeping your software up to date, you can greatly reduce the risk of being hacked.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)

Another way to improve your security is by using two-factor authentication

This process requires you to provide two pieces of information to log in. For example, you might be required to enter your password and then type in a code sent to your phone. 

This process makes it much more difficult for hackers to access your account.

Regular security audits

It is important to audit your security systems regularly. These audits can help you identify vulnerabilities in your system and take steps to fix them. By regularly auditing your system, you can help reduce the risk of a data breach.

Also consider doing regular document audits, especially for sensitive user data.

Train staff on best cybersecurity practices

It is also important to train your staff on cybersecurity. Employees should be aware of the importance of keeping sensitive data secure. 

They should also know how to spot signs of a possible attack and what to do if they suspect that their system has been breached. By training your staff on cybersecurity, you can help reduce the risk of a data breach and keep confidential information protected.

Endpoint protection

Endpoint protection is a type of security software that helps protect your computer from malware and other attacks. 

Using endpoint protection can help reduce the risk of your computer being infected with a virus or other type of malware.

Steps To Take in Case of a Data Or Security Breach

If you believe that your organization has suffered a data breach, then you should:

  • Secure your operations.
  • Notify relevant parties ASAP.
  • Investigate your audit trails and logs.
  • Take corrective actions and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Secure Operations

The first step is to secure your operations. This will involve shutting down any systems that may have been affected by the breach. 

This will help prevent any further damage from being done.

Taking all affected systems offline will help contain the damage and prevent further data loss. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is advisable not to turn off any affected machines before forensic experts arrive on-site. This could make it more difficult to determine the extent of the breach.

Notify relevant parties

The second step is to notify the relevant parties. This will include notifying the authorities, affected businesses, and your customers.

By notifying the relevant parties, you can help limit the damage caused by the breach.

Investigate

The third step is to investigate the breach. This will involve identifying how the breach occurred and what data was accessed. 

The investigation may be done by your organization or by an external party.

It is important to conduct a thorough investigation in order to identify any weaknesses in your system.

Take corrective action

The fourth step is to take corrective action. This will involve fixing any vulnerabilities in your system and increasing your security.

By taking corrective action, you can help prevent future breaches.

Conclusion

A data breach can have serious consequences for an organization. By taking steps to improve your security, you can help reduce the risk of a data breach. 

In the event of a data breach, it is important to take quick and decisive action to limit the damage. 

Hopefully, this guide to security breaches was helpful and you have an idea of how to minimize the impact of a data breach now.

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to prevent security breaches is through user roles and permission settings. This simply means only certain people can access certain, confidential information or documents. Alternatively, you can make it so that some people can’t even edit or share some files.

Be sure to see our full guide on user roles setup and management settings for more info on this!

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