As the world is turning digital, the constant fear of data leakage, blackmailing for it and other issues are rising too. Since the amount of data is huge, even a slight leak raises the question of the privacy of personal information.
For starters, a data breach is the exposure of sensitive information by an unauthorized person over the internet. Today, every single person is on the internet. His/her medical information, banking information, hobbies, transaction history, and even private lives are at risk.
Not only that, even the governments across the world have sensitive information stored over the internet. Even they face the danger of data breaches. 2021 cyber security threats protection demands better planning and more sophisticated software updates.
Let us have a look at 7 data breaches that took the world b storm in the last 7 years:
- The White House Computer System Hacked, 2014 October: The white house is the seat of the most powerful president of the world. The whole computer system of the white house is managed by the national security council. It uses a highly secret and protected TNet system for connecting with the heads of other foreign nations and officials.
For other executive works, the white house uses another top-secret network called JWICS. Some hackers, reportedly backed by the Russian government hacked into the super-secure white house computer system in October 2014. While they were not able to extract any sensitive information, they surely did slow down some of the web functions.
Intranet or VPN access was restricted for some time and the email system slowed down. The cybersecurity personnel asked staff to change some passwords and the computer system was back to normal. This breach warned the government to take stringent cybersecurity steps, a notch higher than it already was.
- US OPM Theft Of Personal Information Of 21.5 Million People, June 2015: After the white house faced data theft threats, another department to witness a mass scale breach was the US office of personnel management.
Hackers got hold of the extremely sensitive information of about 21.5 million US citizens. This included the social security numbers. Also, information about the spouses, children, and friends of the applicants was stolen.
The theft extended to fingerprints as well. This is the biggest data theft that the USA ever faced. It exposed 21.5 million people to hackers. Their information, which they thought was safe with the government, is now with unauthorized people who can misuse it.
People may not be able to defend themselves even if their fingerprints are stolen. The Chinese hackers were behind this major theft.
- Wikileaks Publishing Documents From 2016 Democratic National Committee Email Leak, July 2016: This leak was a collection of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Hackers under the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0 stole emails exchanged between the 7 key DNC members.
The emails exposed the biased US presidential election campaign against Bernie Sanders. The emails reportedly highlighted how Hillary Clinton was preferred over Bernie sanders. The theft extended to the donors and their identity including the social security numbers giving rise to the suspicion of identity theft as well.
The government stated that this leak was carried out by Russian hackers.
- Wannacry Ransomware Attack, May 2017: Wannacry ransomware attack was a digital pandemic that gripped the world in 2017. It targeted the computer systems operating on the Microsoft Windows operating system and demanded ransom in bitcoins.
This worm encrypted the user data and demanded the ransom ranging between $300 to $600 in bitcoins. The victims were all over the world and not restricted to any profession. Healthcare workers, law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and even common people were affected. The total ransom amount neared $4 billion.
The ransomware exploited the vulnerabilities in the older Windows systems in which the security patches were not updated. This vulnerability is called EternalBlue. Wannacry was programmed for automatic spread. It scanned systems for EternalBlue, then installed Double Pulsar and replicated itself.
After much investigation, several countries formally asserted that North Korea carried out this cyber attack. However, North Korea denied the allegations.
- Facebook Hacked, September 2018: Facebook is the largest social media with users all over the world nearing about 50 million. Attackers exploited the vulnerabilities of the website exposing the personal information of its users. There was a flaw in the “view as” feature which allowed the hackers to get hold of the account.
Hackers gathered the authentication tokens of the users. The information that attackers could get hold of was humongous. It was the private photos, messages, and even the ages that a user follows.
While nothing serious happened, these attackers could have posted the sensitive information publicly causing personal as well as professional damage to a person. They could even demand ransom for this. The “could have done” scenario is very frightening citing the kind of information that Facebook has.
While Facebook quickly mended the security patch and assured users that no information was misused, it could not figure out who carried out the attack.
- Canva Hack, 2019: To all the designers around the world, Canva is a lifesaver. This software provides easy graphic designing services like logo designing, webpage designing, and so on.
This Sydney-based startup faced a major data breach where the personal information of over 139 million users was affected. GnosticPlayers, the infamous hackers behind several data breaches, was responsible for this attack. As a precaution, Canvas asked users to change their passwords.
- Microsoft Exchange Hack, 2021: In March 2021, Microsoft reported that Chinese hackers were hacking into the organization’s email accounts using the vulnerabilities in the exchange server email software and calendar software.
This software is used by government and corporate data centers. The data hack affected defense contractors, government organizations, and schools. This led to Microsoft issuing security patches even for older versions.
The Final Say
As the world turns to digital data safekeeping, the danger of it getting into unauthorized hands rises manifold. Organizations must take considerable steps to ensure the safe keep of personal information. At the same time, people should stay away from unknown software downloads.