2017 was a heck of a year for personal data hacks and corporate hacks alike. Some new research offered up by privacy researchers at vpnMentor reveals some of the bigger personal data hacks that may have affected you. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the personal data shared with companies online also increases. While the public tends to trust that this data is safe, the number of hacks orchestrated to access personal data has been on the rise.
Check out the full infographic at the bottom of the post for a visual of some of the biggest hacks and read on below for an overview of these hacks and ideas on what you can do to protect yourself online.
Is your data secure?
While some of the hacks are unlikely to have affected most members of the public, such as the Ashley Madison extra-marital website scandal and the FriendFinder network data breach, others hit tools used by many. These include:
- Yahoo! – One of the biggest personal data breaches in recent years, the Yahoo! hack retrieved data on over 3 billion accounts. This included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and even, in some cases, security questions and answers.
- Uber – Uncovered in November 2017, Uber was the victim of a cyber attack that resulted in 57,000,000 drivers and passengers’ details being compromised. Personal data including names, email addresses, phone numbers and U.S. driver’s license numbers were hacked in the attack. Worryingly, instead of informing appropriate authorities, Uber concealed the attack and paid hackers $100,000 to keep it hidden for over a year.
- Equifax – A cyber attack on the credit scoring company Equifax seized up to 143 million names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license information, as well as credit card details. Although Equifax is US-based, the hack may have also revealed data on up to 44 million UK citizens.
vpnMentor – Personal Data Hacks – Press Release
- Dropbox – In 2012, hackers obtained the login details of a member of staff and accessed private customer data of popular storage application Dropbox. The full scale of the cybersecurity breach wasn’t fully established until years later when it was found that 68.7 million accounts had been compromised with email addresses and passwords affected.
- Tumblr – In an attack by only one hacker, named “Peace”, the email addresses and hashed and salted passwords of nearly 65.5 million accounts were obtained. The details were later sold on a black market website for only $143USD.
What can you do?
If you’re worried that your data may have been compromised, there are resources available online to check if your personal accounts have appeared in breached data files. With the increasing prevalence of data hacks today, and in a time when personal data is seen as a commodity, it is more important than ever to go to extra measures to protect yours.
As online security experts, the graphic from vpnMentor includes ten top tips for protecting your data, such as:
- If you fear your data was stolen, take the appropriate measures and change your password on other sites, which used the same login details.
- Use a VPN when on public WiFi to protect your connection.
- Make regular checks of websites which track major hacks to see if your accounts may have been affected.
- Use a password strength tool, such as vpnMentor’s own here, when selecting your password to ensure you are as secure as possible online.
Thanks to vpnMentor for supplying the infographic below: