What is data breach? Types, Impacts and Biggest Data Breaches in the World

Any unauthorized access to data or a system that contains information is called a data breach. In most cases, the stolen data includes medical records, credit card numbers, social security numbers, ATM pins, and risqué images.

Despite what appears to be increased investment in cybersecurity over the last decade, plenty of firms across the globe are still struggling with instances of breaches. The nasty truth is that we can’t stop data breaches. They are inevitable. While this may not be a beautiful thing that you may want to hear, it’s true.

The moment you surrender any data over to an online service or a website, then you are surrendering any control that you may have to them. These online services and websites can – and will indeed – sell your data to third parties. Much worse, their dull cybersecurity will see hackers and other actors with ill motives taking control of it and using it to their advantage.

Data leaks and big hacks are nothing new as such, with the last five years witnessing a surge in the number of reported breaches. Surprisingly, even the most profitable firms aren’t immune to such breaches. Additionally, a majority of organizations aren’t taking sufficient precautions in a bid to ensure that they are secure.

Reasons Why Data Breaches Occur

Are you in the dark as to why data breaches happen? It’s simple. Data is highly valuable, and companies have huge chunks of data coupled with lots of ways of getting data. Even some of the smallest websites that have recently started will require you to have an account where you log in and input data that unethical sorts and hackers look for.

Whether they are login details such as usernames and passwords that may have to be reused as means of gaining access to active emails or other accounts that people with ill motives can use for phishing or spamming, there’s a lot that hackers can do to harm you. Advanced websites, which could have information from your social security number to your credit card, are even more appealing to bad actors.

Breaches happen due to several reasons, such as accidentally, but somewhat targeted attacks carried out by exploiting system vulnerabilities, weak passwords, companies using out-of-date software, and attackers sneaking malware onto an office building computer to steal data.

Types of Data Breaches

There are three types of data breaches which are most common across the world:

  • Physical Theft

Someone physically logs into a server of a machine which he is not authorized to, and either copies or deletes the information.

  • Skimming

This refers to stealing sensitive information on credit cards and is usually done by equipping card swiping machines with additional hardware to copy the private information.

  • Cyber Crime

The most common type of data breach is done by remotely gaining access to a computer, device, or server, and hacking it to steal information.

Impact of Data Breaches

Data breaches create massive disasters for organizations, businesses, customers, as well as those associated with the breached entities. In most cases, the breach caused by the failure of the company’s part to abide by rules and guidelines designed to protect customers’ sensitive data. Here are the top three impacts of data breaches that businesses face in most cases:

  • Huge financial losses

It takes countless staff-hours and resources to recover and protect the breached data.

  • Competitive ability

Once an organization suffers from a data breach, questions are raised over its credibility.

  • Reputation

No one wants to do business with an organization that cannot even guarantee the safety of client information.

Biggest Data Breaches of All Time

We have gathered the data of the top 50 breaches from different sources and created an infographic that contains the year, company name, number of records stolen, and a short synopsis of each data breach.

Here are the world’s 50 most significant data breaches around the world.

Biggest Data Breaches of All Time

Here is a look at three main massive data breach mishaps that took place just recently.

  1. Facebook 

Facebook suffered a couple of breaches in 2018 that saw more than 50 billion users being compromised. The breach enabled bad actors to exploit a weakness in the firm’s code that allowed users to have a look at how their profile appears to other people.

  1. Marriott

In November 2018, hotel group Marriott did admit that it suffered a significant data breach that affected the records of close to half a million clients. Some of the information accessed included mailing addresses, names, and phone numbers.

  1. Quora

Quora also suffered a massive data mishap on the grounds of user data. Here, hackers were able to get access to user IDs, IP addresses, and encrypted passwords, among others.

Data Protection Tips: How To Keep Data Safe And Secure

Here are the ten tips for keeping your data safe from breaches:

  • Conduct a risk assessment of the IT infrastructure to review security policies, identify threats, and uncover vulnerabilities.
  • Provide trainings to employees and keep them aware of data breach implications. This can reduce the impact drastically.
  • Monitor devices and records of all the employees, irrespective of their designation or JD. No equipment or record should ever be left unattended.
  • Encrypting data is the key to avoid and remain safe from data breaches. If a system with encrypted information is breached, the stolen data is of no use to anyone.
  • Distinguish official wireless networks from the ones that visitors connect to, and never allow any visitor to connect wirelessly to a formal network.
  • Manage identity and access stringently to ensure that users can access only the information they are authorized to.
  • When backing up valuable and sensitive information on a cloud service, ensure that you understand the privacy policy of the cloud service in depth.
  • Business associates should provide IT security policies and risk assessments and develop processes for reporting breaches.
  • Hire services of an excellent legal counsel, who can maneuver your organization out of rough waters.

Final Verdict

As long as firms continue making money by collecting and sharing user data, data breaches will not go away. This is an unavoidable consequence that our technology-reliant globe must deal with. All you can do is to have your sensitive online data secured with state-of-the-art encryption algorithms that keep your online activities safe in an event of a data breach or hacking attempt.

PureVPN is a leading VPN service provider that excels in providing easy solutions for online privacy and security. With 2000+ servers in 141+ countries, PureVPN helps consumers and businesses in keeping their online identity secured.

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