A data breach is modern thievery through technology. “Hackers” access a company’s unsecured database and steal account and personal information, such as credit and debit card numbers, PINs, addresses, phone numbers and even social security numbers. Identity theives then use this sensitive information to create counterfeit credit cards or to otherwise access their victims’ financial information. There have been many data breaches over time, and they seem to be getting worse as hackers figure out ways around security measures. Most of the time when data breaches occur bad things happen and people are taken advantage of. The recent breach at Target is listed among the top 10 worst data breaches of all time, according to tech writer Elizabeth Palermo on Tom’sGuide:
#1 – Heartland Systems. In early 2009, this payment processor from New Jersey suffered the biggest data breach in American history. It exposed 130 million credit and debit cards to cybercriminals. There was malware planted on Heartland’s network and the company processed payments for nearly 250,000 businesses nationwide, making the breach so widespread. Albert Gonzalez was the mastermind behind this and he has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
# 2 – Target Stores. In 2013 Target confirmed that its credit card readers had been hacked, putting nearly 40 million credit and debit card numbers at risk. Then in 2014 the company announced that contact information of nearly 70 million had also been compromised. Beasley Allen law firm has filed two class-action lawsuits related to this data breach, one on behalf of consumers who had their data stolen, and a second on behalf of financial institutions like credit unions and banks that will foot the bill for closing accounts, reissuing credit and debit cards, and other expenses resulting from the theft.
# 3 – Sony. In April 2011, the Playstation Network that links Sony’s home gaming systems was attacked along with Sony Online Entertainment. It was eventually revealed that 102 million records were compromised. The credit card information of about 24,000 customers in Europe also was stolen.
# 4 – In 2008, the National Archive and Records Administration was compromised. One of its hard drives containing contact information and social security numbers of nearly 76 million veterans was sent to be scrapped after it could not be fixed. However, it was not verified and it is still unknown whether it was actually destroyed or not, putting their information at risk.
Rounding out the top 10 worst breaches in the U.S. are Epsilon in 2011, Evernote in 2013, Living Social in 2013, TJX Companies in 2006-07, Adobe Systems in 2013, and CardSystems Solutions in 2005. You can read more about these at Tom’s Guide: Tech for Real Life using the link below.
Source: Tom’s Guide