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The Worst Internet Security Breach Incidents of the Past

With the recent LinkedIn hack causing worry all over the world as potentially 117 million accounts being exposed, interest in online security is once again on people’s minds. Why it ever left is an even bigger question, especially after you read through these 10 online security #fails which have been happening since the ‘online’ world started!

Presented at random, beware of the #FAIL!

The 10 worst Internet security breaches of all time

1: The Fappening

Ok, I said that this would be written in no particular order …but come one. This was the all-time biggest news in online hacking and you and I know it. What people miss here is that this hack was quite different from other hacks we’ll talk about:

  1. The damage was done to reputations, not bank accounts.
  2. It was not a mass hack of the iCloud, but small hacks of individual accounts with weak passwords.

In all, about 500 private pictures taken from celebrities smartphones were leaked to the public. While this didn’t have the financial impact that the other online security problems we’ll look at have had, they did cause irreversible damage to the reputation of many of the celebrities involved.

2: The Snapchat hack

This was the hack the woke up thousands of people using this app to share nudes. Including people I ..knew. The ‘totally anonymous’ service was exposed for not being quite so anonymous or safe as hackers posted the cellphones, usernames, and location of over 4.6 million Snapchat accounts.

The hackers said that they had been pushing Snapchat to correct the security leak, but they never did. The people being violated didn’t lose money personally, but Snapchat took a big hit which took them over a year to recover from.

3. The Sony Playstation Network hack

LulzSec dealt Sony a major Internet security breach in 2011 when they stole names, birthdays, account numbers, and even credit card data from the Sony Pictures website. For nerds like me, the year was made even worse when the Playstation Network was hacked, causing outages for days.

This was a serious hack with huge implications financially for Sony, and for their employees. Not only were they ultimately hit with a $400,000 fine, they also wound up compensating those on the Playstation Network, making it a double hit for them financially. Online gaming isn’t what it used to be.

4. The OPM Internet security breach

This recent hack saw government employees, those with a security clearance, have their details stolen. What details? Pretty much every single thing about their lives. At least 18 million files were leaked, and these weren’t small-time accounts for Wal-Mart employees. These were the elite of the US government having things stolen which could easily lead to identity theft.

5. Global Payment Systems are not so secure

Internet Security Breach hackers gonna hackYou’d think that an online payment system’s first, second, and third concerns would be security, but that wasn’t the case with Global Payment System. In 2012 they lost over 7 million people’s personal data.

This hack hit them hard. Really hard. $94 million hard. This huge loss was compounded by the fact that they were delisted for a year. When you have job, and one job only, and you fail at that job, it’s a pretty good idea to take a step back.

6. Adobe is hacked …in a flash

Sorry about the pun, because this Internet security breach was no joke. In 2013 Adboe had over 38 million of their users credit card data stolen …and then things got WORSE when 150 million user data files were shared.

It’s said that they used some poor encryption techniques. If even Adobe, one of the foremost names in the digital world, can screw up encryption you can too. Read more about basic encryption for a home WiFi router here.

7. Neiman Marcus makes a costly mistake

Neiman Marcus can get away with charging $50 for a white t-shirt, but apparently none of the excess money goes towards security. In January of 2014 2,400 of their high-end customers saw their accounts used fraudulently. While 1.1 million people’s credit card information was stolen.

The hole in their system was exposed from July 16 – October of 2013. You’d think that they’d pick up on this over all that time, but nothing was discovered until January of 2014.

8. Thanks for staying with White Lodging, we’ll keep you saf…

Have you never heard of White Lodging before? It’s the parents company of Holiday Inn, Westin, Sheraton, Marriott, Renaissance, and Radisson. Have you heard of them? I’ll bet you have!

The first hack occurred back in 2013, and focused on restaurant and gift shop data. This was bad enough, but they didn’t learn their lesson and suffered a second data loss in 2015.

9. YAHOO!, or …yahoo…

January of 2014, just after the release of the 2013 Target hack, and days after the White Lodging hack, Yahoo! Announced that 82 million users had their credentials compromised. This Internet security breach was said to have happened through a third party app.

Pretty much all of Yahoo!’s users changed their passwords as a precaution. The underlying lesson here is to practice good password habits.

10. Target is hit

This may be the single worst hack in the history of …history. It was December of 2013, right when you want your customers to trust you, when Target revealed that they had been hacked for 40 million user files containing:

  • PINs
  • Credit card numbers
  • Expiration dates
  • Data embedded on the backs of credit cards

So that was bad. And then it was found that another 30 million users had their personal information stolen or compromised as well. It was not a Merry Christmas for Target, and was made worse by the revelation that the hack occurred on Black Friday.


Feature image via Telnov Oleksil / Shutterstock