Over the last decade hacking and data breaches have become very common and billions and billions of people around the globe have been affected big time. Humans have lost their credentials and sensitive data and faced invasive surveillance from repressive regimes.
In this digital age, people are constantly in stress over becoming a victim of cyberattacks and get their identities stolen, realizing that there might be a chance that strangers might be lurking on their Netflix account or misusing their data in some way.
In this increasingly computerized world, there are constant inevitable digital threats. But the actual evolution of hacking, with all its scams, criminal black markets, and state-sponsored forces has been characteristically human, not a machine. Well yet!
Clearly the future ahead is not at all what we are expecting, if the digital transformation continues with this speed, we might want to look for some strict laws or policies to protect our data.
To give you some idea of the dark side of this digital era here are some data breaches and digital attacks that helped shape the decade. Take an anxiety-inducing stroll down memory lane—and stay safe out there!
Time – 2013 – 14
Impact – 3 billion user accounts
Details – In September 2016, Yahoo shook the world by announcing that in 2014 it had been the victim of what would be the biggest data breach in history. The company reported that the attackers compromised the real names, email address, date of birth, and contact numbers of nearly 500 million users.
Around the same time, Yahoo disclosed another breach from 2013, by different attackers, that compromised details like names, date of birth, contact details, and passwords of nearly 1 billion users. After revising the estimated number, Yahoo revealed that almost 3 billion user accounts have been affected during the two data breaches.
Yahoo Mail is one of the oldest free email services, and many users have built their digital identities around it. However, this incident has put a dent on the popularity of the company. The time when Yahoo announced about the breach it was in the process of being acquired by Verizon which eventually paid $4.48 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business. The breaches knocked an estimated $350 million off the value of the company.
Time – 2018
Impact – 1.1 billion Indian citizens
Details – Aadhar is the Indian government’s identification database that is used in everything from opening a bank account to buy a sim-card for your phone, something very similar to social security number, and if something so important and confidential violates, it comes to a mess.
In 2018, it’s estimated at 1.1 billion Aadhaar numbers as associated data were breached and shared on the black market. The 12-digit unique number is used for many things, and interconnections, though, have led to numerous major exposures of Aadhaar data when third parties, or the Indian government itself, store the information improperly.
As a result, researchers estimate that all 1.1 billion Aadhaar numbers and much of the associated data were breached throughout 2018 alone. There is reportedly a thriving black market for the data.
Time – 2019
Impact – 540 million users
Details – Social media giant, Facebook, has been in the bad books of government from past a year, and that is because of it s2019 breach in which more than 540 million records about Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service, according to a cybersecurity research firm.
According to the media reports, third-party Facebook app developers posted the records in plain sight, causing yet another major data breach for the world’s biggest social network.
Adult Friend Finder
Time – 2016
Impact – 2 million accounts
Details – The FriendFinder network, a California based company, which included casual hookup and adult content websites like Adult Friend Finder, Penthouse.com, Cams.com, iCams.com, and Stripshow.com, was breached in mid-October 2016. According to some media reports the stolen data spanned for 20 years on sox databases and included names, email addresses, and passwords.
This breach was particularly sensitive for account holders because of the services the site offered. The alleged leak caused panic among users who created accounts on the website, which primarily are adult-themed dating/fling websites. The breach also affected over 15 million “deleted” accounts that had not been purged from the database.
Time – 2013
Impact – 153 million user records
Details – In October 2013, a security blogger Brian Krebs of Adobe reported about the data breach in which nearly 3 million encrypted customer credit card records, plus login data for an undetermined number of user accounts.
Later that revelation, Adobe reported that the number of affected users was more than 150 million, and weeks of research showed that the hack had also exposed customer names, IDs, passwords, and debit and credit card information.
In 2015, in agreement Adobe paid $1.1 million in legal fees and an undisclosed amount to users to settle claims of violating the Customer Records Act and unfair business practices. In November 2016, the amount paid to customers was reported at $1 million.