The Biggest Data Leaks of the Decade and the Financial Devastation They Caused

It’s 2020 and most businesses depend on the internet to market and sell their products and services. And not just businesses, consumers also end up providing a lot of personal information online. While this is a good thing, business owners and consumers alike need to be cautious of the fact that cybersecurity systems are vulnerable to data breaches.

We’ve all witnessed the devastating effects of data breaches in the last decade. Sensitive files, including account details, have found their way into the wrong hands. And this trend is not likely to change as more and more businesses are turning online.

Companies should, therefore, make it a priority to increase their budgetary allocation to the field of cybersecurity. After all, the data encryption in use will determine whether you’ll become a victim of data breaches or not.

In this post, we look at the biggest data leaks of the decade and the financial implications they had on affected companies.

Let’s get started:

1.   Yahoo Data Breach

Back in 2010, Yahoo was a reputable internet giant. Have you ever thought about what happened to it since it’s no longer common in online space as it used to be?

Well, the company lost its ability to compete with other email service providers after a 2013 data breach.

The company’s over 3 billion accounts were breached, in what is arguably the biggest breach in history. In fact, it was after three years that the company announced that all their client’s information, including names, email I.D.s, phone numbers, birth dates, and security answers had been compromised by hackers.

But what makes Yahoo breach notable is not just the sheer number of data lost but the devastating financial effect it had on the company. A company that was valued at $100 billion was sold to Verizon at only $4.8 billion.

Another attack in 2015 exposed more than one billion accountants to the breach. It was later that security agencies in the US discovered that the attack was initiated by a group connected to the Russian government.

Yahoo could later in 2017 announce that all its accounts were compromised. As a result, they had to sign an intricate deal to minimize the effects that breach could have on Verizon. To that end, the buying price reduced by about $400 million from what was earlier agreed.

2.   Adobe Data Breach

In 2013, Adobe announced that about three million credit card records had been compromised by hackers. What’s more, IDs and passwords for about 38 million users were also breached. These data leaks left customer names, passwords, IDs, and credit and debit card information exposed.

The financial implication was that Adobe paid about $1.1 million in legal fees and another $1 million to the affected clients.

3.   Equifax Data Breach

In 2017, Equifax announced that a data breach on their website left more than 143 million users exposed. The hackers stole a lot of vital information, including names, IDs, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, and credit card information.

According to Richard Smith, the company’s ex-CEO, the breach was a result of negligence on the part of one of their employees. As a result, Equifax opted to pay $700 million as a settlement fee. The amount was used to pay for investigations and also those affected by the breach.

4.   Marriot Data Breach

In 2018, Marriot announced that it had been a victim of a massive data breach that affected records of nearly 500 million customers. While the attack was initiated in 2014, it was not discovered until late 2018.

Among other things, customer names, contact information, travel information, and travel numbers were stolen by hackers. While it is not yet clear the financial implication this breach had on Marriot, it is reported that it cost them over $28 million, most of which was paid by insurance.

5.   Capital One Data Breach

In July 2019, Capital One admitted that information to more than 100 million (US and Canadian nationals) people had been compromised by hackers. Most of these were credit card applicants since 2005.

The hackers accessed customers’ sensitive information, including names, zip codes, addresses, email IDs, dates of birth, and phone numbers. Bank information for about 140,000 credit card users was also compromised. Social security numbers were also compromised.

As a result, Capital One, just like Equifax accepted to pay settlement fees for its massive data breach. To that end, it had to pay anything between $100 and $500 million to mitigate the impacts the data breach had on its customers.

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