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The Most Significant Data Breaches in History

The Most Significant Data Breaches in History image
Updated: January 4th, 2023

Data breaches have become increasingly common in recent years, with hackers accessing the sensitive personal and financial information of millions of individuals and organizations. While there have been many data breaches throughout history, some have had a particularly significant impact due to the large number of records that were compromised, the sensitive nature of the data that was accessed, or the long-term consequences for those affected.

  1. Yahoo data breach (2013-2014): In 2013 and 2014, hackers accessed the personal information of all 3 billion user accounts on Yahoo's servers. The hackers obtained access to information such as names, email addresses, and security questions, as well as unencrypted security answers. The breach had serious consequences for Yahoo and its users, and the company ultimately reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay a $35 million fine.

  2. Marriott data breach (2018): In 2018, hackers accessed the reservation system of Marriott's Starwood Hotels chain and accessed the personal information of up to 500 million guests. The hackers obtained access to information such as names, addresses, passport numbers, and reservation details. The breach had serious consequences for Marriott and its guests, and the company ultimately reached a settlement with the UK's data protection authority, agreeing to pay a $124 million fine.

  3. Equifax data breach (2017): In 2017, hackers accessed the personal information of 147 million customers of credit reporting company Equifax. The hackers obtained access to sensitive information such as names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. The breach had serious consequences for Equifax and its customers, and the company ultimately reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay up to $700 million in fines and compensation to those affected by the breach.

  4. Adobe data breach (2013): In 2013, hackers accessed the personal information of 152 million customers of software company Adobe. The hackers obtained access to sensitive information such as names, email addresses, and encrypted password data. The breach had serious consequences for Adobe and its customers, and the company ultimately reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay a $1 million fine.

  5. eBay data breach (2014): In 2014, hackers accessed the personal information of 145 million users of online marketplace eBay. The hackers obtained access to information such as names, addresses, and encrypted password data. The breach had serious consequences for eBay and its users, and the company ultimately reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay a $20 million fine.

Data breaches can have serious consequences for individuals and organizations, and it's important to take steps to protect your personal information and to be cautious about sharing sensitive information online. Some general tips for protecting yourself online include using strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, being cautious about sharing personal information online, and keeping your software and devices up to date with the latest security patches.

If you want to find out exactly which companies have your private data, putting you at risk of being in a data breach, you can get a free exposures report from the the PrivacyHawk app. Take your data privacy to the next level by getting deleted from unwanted and vulnerable databases where your data is on exposed. Available on the Apple App Store.

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