8 Worst Security Breaches: Is Your Data Safe?

The information age is made possible by the lightening-fast exchange of data, making that data today’s all-important currency. As precious as our personal and private data is today, it must be kept safe.

Individuals can take action to safeguard our usernames, passwords, and personal information. But when every precaution is taken, is your information guaranteed to be kept out of the wrong hands?

Who gets access to the data on your credit card’s magnetic strip when it’s swiped through that card reader? Who’s able to see the username and password you use on your favorite shopping sites?

Ever since sensitive personal information has been stored on computers, there have been hackers who have done their best to break into these systems and access that information to sell it to the highest bidder.

By hacking into computer systems and wireless networks, computer-savvy thieves can install malware to capture information like credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords at the press of a button. In some of the top security breaches in history, millions of credit card numbers have been captured by a single hacker. In 2012 alone, according to a study by McAfee, more than 25% of Americans were victims of a data security breach.

Even seemingly invulnerable giants like eBay and Adobe were susceptible to hacker attacks, losing the encrypted private data of millions of their customers. In the case of some government security breaches, the person who leaked the data didn’t have to hack into a single computer, but was handed those secrets in the course of their jobs, only to turn it over to the public, sometimes putting lives at risk.

What’s worse, some of these hacked organizations delayed informing their customers, instead choosing to place priority on preserving their own reputation. Those delays put their customers at even more risk, leaving them unable to take measures to protect their information and recover their privacy.

There are precautions you can take to keep your sensitive data safe, like creating strong passwords and choosing carefully who you give your information to. But once your data’s out in the cloud, there are no guarantees. The eight worst security breaches below show that no system is 100% safe.

Biggest Security Breaches

Edward Snowden: Leaks That Exposed US Spy Programme – bbc.co.uk
5 Hackers Charged in Largest Data-breach Scheme in US – bloomberg.com
Pentagon Says Snowden Took Most U.S. Secrets Ever: Rogers – bloomberg.com
Collateral Murder – collateralmurder.com
A History of Bitcoin Hacks – theguardian.com
Edward Snowden: ‘The US Government Will Say I Aided Our Enemies’ – theguardian.com
Defense Intelligence Agency Assessment of Damage Done by Edward Snowden Leaks – theguardian.com
The US Embassy Cables – theguardian.com
Consumer Advice Following eBay ‘Hack’ – ico.org.uk
Adobe Breach Impacted at Least 38 Million Users – krebsonsecurity.com
Adobe to Announce Source Code, Customer Data Breach – krebsonsecurity.com
1.5 Million Card Numbers at Risk from Hack – money.cnn.com
5 of the Biggest-ever Credit Card Hacks – money.cnn.com
Mt. Gox Allegedly Hacked: “This Could Be the End of Bitcoin – motherboard.vice.com
Ebay Hack, 2nd Largest in US History, Leaves Questions Unanswered – my.chicagotribune.com
Heartland Payment Systems Hacked – nbcnews.com
Feds Charge International Hackers with Stealing 160 Million Credit and Debit Card Numbers in Massive Scheme – nj.com
Ebay Asks 145 million Users to Change Passwords after Cyber Attack – reuters.com

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