6 High-Profile Data Security Violations



Data security breaches are not uncommon, they are a daily occurrence. With such intelligent hackers, companies are becoming more open to such breaches, they need to out-think the hackers in order to be one step ahead and protect their most confidential data.

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data security violations

Some data security breaches are bigger than others and it is those more high-profile ones that tend to get more recognition. We take a look at six of the most high-profile data security violations which involved some large organisations.

  1. Sony PlayStation

In 2011, 77 million PlayStation Network accounts were hacked, which caused the site to be down for a month. This is viewed as the Ocean’s Eleven of the gaming community, the worst data breach among this community of all time. Included in the 77 million stolen account were 12 million unencrypted credit card numbers, alongside names, passwords, addresses and email addresses. The finger of blame has still not been pointed as nobody knows the identity of the hacker.

  1. Heartland Payment Systems

Overshadowing the PlayStation scenario is the hacking of Heartland Payment System’s data systems in 2008. Almost double the credit card details of the PlayStation hack were stolen – 134 million. The people responsible were caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison just two years later.

  1. Monster.com

In August 2007, 1.3 million job seekers had confidential information stolen and used in a phishing scam as recruitment giants Monster.com had their website hacked. The hackers broke into the online recruitment site’s password-protected resume library and stole names, addresses phone numbers and email addresses. They then emailed the victims demanding a cash ransom, otherwise their computers would be riddled with a virus.

  1. Department of Veterans Affairs

Almost 27 million active US military personnel, veterans’ and their spouses had details heisted, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth and disability ratings from an unencrypted national database. The data was on a laptop and external hard drive, which were both stolen from an analyst’s home in Maryland. The stolen items were later returned by an unknown person.

  1. Google

Intellectual property was stolen from Google in 2009, when the Chinese government launched a huge attack. The Asian hackers exploited a weakness in the old Internet Explorer and gained access to Google’s internal network. It is not known what exact data was stolen, however Google simply confirmed that it was ‘intellectual property’.

  1. AOL

Data was posted on a website that included 20 million web inquiries from more than 650,000 AOL users. The stolen data included shopping and banking details. The data was intended for research, yet it was mistakenly posted in the public domain. TechCrunch announced that “the utter stupidity of this is staggering”.

If it is possible for global giants, like Google, AOL and Monster.com, to get hacked into it is possible that it could happen to any company. Which is why companies should protect their data by employing the services of a data security and managed file transfer expert.

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This article was written by Tom Wills, an IT and technology writer for HANDD, providing Data Security and Managed File Transfer solutions.

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