By Hannah Whittenly
Today, digital security is a huge looming threat for businesses all over the world, including both small businesses as well as huge brands. In fact, some of the largest companies in the world have been repeatedly targeted by hackers, cyber criminals and spies. However, where they failed, others can learn. Below is an overview of the five biggest corporate hacks as well as what can be done to prevent such breeches in the future.
Experian isn’t your typical company, but it is an important one. Experian is one of the largest collectors of data in the world for the purpose of judging credit worthiness. It largely determines who and who cannot get a loan, which means that it has access to a lot of people’s personal bank and identity information. Holding this much data also made it a prime target for hackers. The information of 200 million Americans was stolen from Experian through an identity theft scheme originating in Vietnam. Identity theft can be very dangerous, because it can ruin people’s credit scores, steal their money, and, in some cases, get them into legal trouble.
Before Facebook and Twitter took over the market, MySpace was the largest social media network in the world. One of the reasons why it lost prominence, perhaps, was that MySpace was hit with a hack that affected 164 million user accounts. Although what people put online is public, their personal information connected to those counts is often made private in the settings section of social media sites. When users feel that they can no longer trust a platform to protect that information, then they will usually seek out another popular social forum. Due to the lack of trust, Facebook was able to jump into the spotlight and take the lead in social media and is still a frontrunner today.
eBay isn’t only an auction site. It’s one of the largest online stores in existence on the planet. As such, cyber criminals know it holds valuable customer data. eBay was the victim of a significant hack in 2014 which affected 145 million user accounts. The hack was accomplished by gaining log-in information from a small number of eBay employees.
Heartland may not be a household name, but most people in the business world do know it as one of the largest independent payment processors in the world that handles millions upon millions of credit card transactions. When it was hacked, 130 million credit card users were affected. According to Information Is Beautiful, Heartland had to settle a lawsuit with American Express, Visa and MasterCard for $100 million as a result.
Many of the same hackers are responsible for targeting multiple companies. The hacker who successfully obtained information from 164 million MySpace accounts also stole data from 117 million people and companies who had LinkedIn accounts.
Protecting Your Company
What you may not be aware of, however, is that these hacks were the result of employee negligence and incompetence that lead to things like password log-ins being leaked to hackers and cyber criminals. If you want to protect your company’s valuable data, then your employees should be referred to a security training guide and train on it regularly. Only when employees are made aware of the many different ways data can be breeched can they take steps to protect it.
While some of these huge companies managed to survive these hacks, smaller firms are definitely at risk of being wiped out by similar attacks. When your company becomes susceptible to hacks, then you lose trust with your clients who are relying on you to safeguard their personal information. Because of that, it is your duty to make digital security a priority in your company.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer from Sacramento, CA. Most of the time she loves to write about business and family. She regularly interviews small business owners from around the world about their business practices, products, and services.