List Of World’s 50 Biggest Data Breaches From 2004–2021

Data breaches cost organizations billions of dollars each year to avoid and contain, while also degrading consumer trust and potentially reducing customer retention. Here’s the list of the world’s 50 biggest data breaches from 2004 to 2021.

List Of World's 50 Biggest Data Breaches From 2004–2021

Data infringements have become an ubiquitous danger to users, businesses, and government agencies as our planet has become growingly dependent on technology and information stored online; and, as Visual Capitalist’s Paul Sykes explains below, in 2021, a new record was established with more than 5.9 billion user records robbed.

Chimdi Nwosu’s picture depicts the 50 greatest data breaches since 2004, as well as the industries most affected. Data was compiled through press releases and company statements.

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Understanding Data Breach Fundamentals

A data breach occurs when an unauthorized party copies, transmits, or steals sensitive or secret information. Malware attacks, payment card fraud, insider disclosures, and inadvertent disclosure can all lead to this.

Customer PII (personally identifiable information), employee PII, intellectual property, company data, or government agency data are frequently targeted.

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Individual hackers, organized cybercrime gangs, and even national governments can all be involved in data breaches. The stolen data can then be used in various illegal activities such as identity theft, credit card fraud, or held for ransom.

Notable Data Breaches Since 2004

In 2013, the greatest data breach in history occurred when all three billion Yahoo accounts were compromised. Hackers were able to obtain personal details and passwords from users during that cyberattack. While the full scope of the Yahoo data hack is yet unknown, the stolen information has been linked to subsequent cybercrime around the world.

From 2004 to 2021, these were the ten largest data breaches in terms of the number of user records stolen.

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The big Yahoo hack was responsible for nearly 30% of the 9.9 billion user records taken from the Web sector, which was by far the most impacted. Tech and finance were the next most affected sectors, with 2 billion and 1.6 billion data compromised, correspondingly.

Although these three industries had the largest totals of lost user data, this does not necessarily mean that their security methods are weaker. Instead, it is most likely due to the huge volume of user data they collect.

Not all high-profile data breaches are large-scale. When Apple’s iCloud was hijacked in 2014, the personal photos of around 200 celebrities were broadcast throughout the internet, it made news. Although only a few hundred people were affected by this highly focused hack, it demonstrated how intrusive and destructive data breaches can be to individuals.

The Cost of Data Breaches to Businesses

Data breaches cost organizations billions of dollars each year to avoid and contain, while also degrading consumer trust and potentially reducing customer retention.

According to an IBM security analysis from 2021, the average cost per data breach for businesses in 2020 will be $4.2 million, up 10% from 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rise is primarily due to the increased security risk associated with having more people who are working remotely.

Measures to Improve Data Security

Because cybercrime companies are typically tenacious, dynamic, and smart, entirely preventing data breaches is nearly unachievable. Businesses can, however, seek out new strategies to minimize data disclosure and mitigate any consequences.

Following the iCloud security breach in 2014, Apple started promoting two-factor authentication to users as a way to improve data protection.

Regardless of the precautions taken, data breaches are an unavoidable cost of doing business in the modern world and will continue to be a source of concern for both businesses and consumers.

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