Data Breaches of 2021 and what makes them Silent Killers

Data breaches are one of those hidden enemies that can eat up your business or virtual life from the inside without giving you a sniff of that. And before you realize their presence, it might be too late.

It won’t be erroneous to say that cyber breaches are among the most deadly hazards present around us. People from across the world have been victimized by it. There is no exception.

If you have any sort of online presence or use digital devices, then you must get educated on data breaches, their types, and dangers. This post is dedicated to them only. It is going to be an exciting ride. So, stay tuned.

The Must-Know Data Breaches of 2021: Case Study

Before we delve deep into details, let’s figure out what data breaches are. From a data breach, we mean an incident of information stolen, access, or exposed without the permission of the information owner. The most common information that becomes a victim of a data breach is email addresses, constant customer data details, trade secrets, or credit card details.

Talking about the origin of recent credit card breaches or other types of breaches, they were present since the beginning of time. In the digital world, it became prominent in the 1980s and grew immensely in the early 2000s.

In 1986, TRW, a global credit information corporation, was hacked, and around 90 million records were taken away. The same year, Revenue Canada became a victim of an information breach, and 1 security data breach. Speaking of the impact of data breaches, it is of assorted types. For instance, one can lose a huge chunk of money when an individual is victimized.

For an organization, becoming a victim of an information breach means losing reputation and customers’ trust.

Here are some of the statistics related to the loss of data breaches:

  • The average expense of data breaches across the world is $3.86 million, says IBM.
  • In 2020, the USA faced an $8.64 million loss in 2020 just because of data breaches.
  • The size of denial-of-service (DDoS) data breach attack swelled up to 500% of its actual size and hit the mark of 26Gbps.
  • Out of all the recent security breaches, 28% targets small businesses.
  • Human errors are the reasons behind 23% of cyber breaches.
  • It is anticipated that by 2021, one enterprise will become a victim of an information breach every 11 seconds.

These figures show that data breaches are no less than a headache for individuals and cooperate.

How does a data breach happen?

Now that you have gained a basic understanding of data breaches and know what they mean, it’s time to find out how they happen.

A “data breach” occurs when a hacker or cybercriminal manipulates the data sources and extracts crucial information from that resource.

It can be done in numerous ways in the case of the latest security breaches. For instance, a hacker can access a computer or network in an unauthorized manner and steal information. Data can also be extracted by bypassing the network security protocols.

Some of the most common tools to make this happen are malware attacks, viruses, phishing, and Denial of Services. However, ways like payment card fraud and insider data leaks are also responsible for many data breaches.

Here are some statistics that you should know about:

  • Out of all the data breaches, happened in 2018, 34% occurred because of an insider’s help.
  • The main motive behind 71% of data breaches is finance-related.
  • Around 4,800 websites become a victim of form jacking code.
  • Hackers become successful in their motives because the

How can you help protect your personal data?

It may seem hard, but it is not impossible; keeping data safe in the world of cyber vulnerabilities is not impossible. All you need a smart preventive strategy and continual monitoring.

Here are some of the most viable ways to protect personal data and keep data breaches at bay:

  • Organizations can update and review their data governance policies frequently and make changes as per the need of the hour.
  • Ensure that data classification and governance are at par with data privacy standards like HIPAA, SOX, and ISO 27001.
  • It is essential to do risk assessment frequently and spot the vulnerabilities in their infancy stage.
  • If you can afford a full-time data security expert, then it’s good. Else, outsource this service. Don’t ever try your hand in this domain. It is something that demands perfection and expertise.

Organizations can reduce the harm of data breaches by creating a viable disaster recovery plan. When there is an effective recovery, data can be recovered easily.

On a personal level, one can use strategies like keeping devices password-protected, using strong passwords, updating software regularly. Don’t get carried away with amazing deals and offers from unrecognized senders. They are no less than a trap.

It is suggested not to carry out important transactions on public or free Wi-Fi. Because this way, you welcome hackers.

What should you do if your personal data were exposed?

We know that it is a heart-breaking and shattering thing to know that your personal data is stolen. Thoughts of getting robbed, blackmailed, or exposed will run in your mind, and it is about to happen. But, you need to maintain your sanity as you are not alone in this. Many leading firms have also faced it.

  • Recently, 80 million Microsoft customer records were exposed online.
  • Hackers leaked 1,852,595 records of Mashable.com in 2020.
  • In every 39 seconds, a cyberattack occurs.
  • Reports say that around 192,000 coronavirus-related cyberattacks occurred every week in May 2020.

So, instead of crying about what has happened, one must try to mitigate the risk and prevent it from happening in the future. This is what a prey of data breach must do soon after the attack.

  • Figure out what kind of attack has happened. Whether your personal information has been stolen or financial credentials have been compromised.
  • Once you figure out what has been stolen, take remedial actions immediately. Change all the passwords and update your account details. In case of financial data theft, contact your bank and report the incident. Ask for an inquiry as well.
  • Enable the two-factor authentication on all your accounts for added security. With this, you will be notified when someone is trying to gain unauthorized access to your dataset.
  • If you feel that a crucial dataset has been stolen, it is better to hire a security expert to find the root cause and recover the data. This is primarily the case with organizations and businesses. But, individuals with heavy loss can also take up this way.

Massive data breaches in 2021 to be aware of (case by case)

Cyber breaches happen all the time. But, seeing the number of data breaches, we can say that the latest security breaches in 2021 were severe.

We haven’t reached halfway, yet many high-end cybersecurity breaches, including the largest data breach, have already happened.

Here is a quick overview of some of the most talked-about and famous recent data breaches in 2021:/p>

#1 – Facebook

Despite tons of cybersecurity breaches prevention measures, Facebook has been victimized by data breaches a couple of times. It was reported that nearly 500 million users’ data were stolen and posted on a low-key hacking forum. The contact details like phone numbers and email addresses were revealed. It is as scary as it sounds.

Even the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, wasn’t able to save its private credentials from online predators. The data was leaked on the dark web for free. The only sigh of relief that those 540 million users have been the assurance that the finance and password-related information was not exposed.

Users from 160 countries fall into the trap of this recent data breach. The US was most affected as 32 million compromised accounts were from the US.

Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and – in some cases – email addresses were disclosed. A Facebook official revealed that it happened because of the vulnerability that the company handled in 2019. The data scraping process was adopted to make this happen.

The company claimed that it has resolved the issues and assures its users that the same route of data breaching can’t be taken in the future. The social media giant also decided not to notify the end-user of the data leak.

#2 – Instagram

In May 2019, Instagram became a victim of this silent killer. Around 49 million records exposed online contain crucial information about Instagram influencers and celebrities. Users’ biodata, profile pictures, locations, and other essential details were exposed. In 2021, it happened once again. But, this time, Instagram wasn’t at fault. It happened because of SocialArks, a Chinese Data-scraping company.

Because of cloud misconfiguration by the hands of SocialArks, around 318 million records were left unprotected in outer space. These records were of Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

#3 – LinkedIn

Around 500 million LinkedIn accounts were compromised in April 2021. It was said that a huge sum in 4-digits (bitcoin) was used for negotiation. However, LinkedIn never explained the reasons and even tried to investigate the causes.

Other than this, LinkedIn was also a part of data breaching that happened because of mishandling by SocialArks.

#4 – Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Recently, on March 18, 2021, Cancer Treatment Centers of America revealed that around 104,808 patients of its Midwestern Regional Medical Center were accessed by authorized personnel. Information like names, health insurance information, medical record numbers, and CTCA account numbers was likely to get exposed. Thankfully no financial information was revealed.

#5 – Ubiquiti Inc.

This one is also a recent data breach that was initiated at the end of 2020. It lasted for 2 months and the organization was able to take control by the end of January, 2021.

The “data breach” impacted a considerable chunk of its customers when an intruder gained unauthorized access to information like names, hashed passwords, salted emails, and addresses. The company did not reveal the number of affected users. The data breach reduced the stock value of the company by 30%.

#6 – Parler

Parler, the one ripped off Twitter, was a victim of a data breach in Jan 2021 and went offline suddenly. An immense number of information and personal conversations were leaked. Soon after the hack, it was removed from Amazon Web Hosting.

#7 – Mimecast

Around 10% of Mimecast users fall into the trap of data breaches. It happened when a threat actor compromised the company’s certificate used to authenticate a couple of Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Web Services. The company hired a seasoned security expert to look into the issue.

#8 – Pixlr

This popular photo editing website was in the news for bad reasons when a notorious hacker exposed its 1.9 million Pixlr user records for free on an online forum.

He even invited people to use this data for phishing and other malicious activities. However, the company didn’t accept the incident. But BleepingComputer revealed that this is a legitimate breach.

#9 – Bonobos

Bonobos’ data breach affected 12.3 million records in Jan-2021. A cybercriminal backed up its server and stole 7 million shipping addresses, 3.5 million partial credit card records, and 1.8 million account information.

Bonobos confirmed the breach but made it clear that the data was stolen from the backup done on a third-party app.

#10 – VIPGames

Think before using an online gaming platform twice as you can end up using crucial information. It has already happened with 66,000 users of VIPGames, a leading online gaming platform. Around 23 million data records were stolen and compromised. All of this happened because of a misconfigured server.

Media reports said that all the confidential information of VIPGames.com was easily accessible to the public on the ElasticSearch server. There was no encryption and password protection for the data. Details related to in-games transactions were also available for free.

#11 – Kroger

Kroger is the most recent victim of a third-party software data breach. The company confirmed that some of the present and former employees and the customers were targets of this data breach. The attack happened because of a third-party file transfer tool from Accellion. The company claimed that this data breach hampers its IT systems or grocery store system.

The incident happened on January 23, 2021. Gladly, credit or debit information and the account passwords were also saved from this attack.

This is not the first time any company is attacked by a data breach because of Accellion FTA. There are many others as well. Experts say that replacing old and tattered software is an excellent option to stay protected from such data breaches.

#12 – T-Mobile

T-Mobile was attacked once again in 2020 when a hacker gained unauthorized access to the customer’s proprietary network information (CNPI) and exposed the call-related information. T-Mobile is the world’s third-largest mobile service provider.

Yet, it can’t keep the data breaches at bay. The company revealed that the hacker wasn’t successful in accessing sensitive customers’ data and compromised their financial information. This intrusion impacted around 200,000 users. 

#13 – CAM4 data breach

The CAM4 data breach was in the news for quite a long time because it affected a huge number. Around 10.88 billion records were leaked in March 2021. The credit for this data breach goes to its Elasticsearch server that leaked the information.

Customers’ information such as names, sexual orientation, email addresses, payment logs, IP addresses, and password hashes were exposed. The majority of stolen email addresses were linked with the cloud storage services of this leading adult video streaming website. Fears of users getting blackmailed or falling into the nippers of severe phishing attacks were hovering over the head of the users.

#14 – Microsoft Exchange

It seems like 2021 is the year of data breaches. It’s been only a few months, and almost all the leading firms have witnessed data breaches. Microsoft Exchange has joined the league.

Around 250,000 servers were corrupted and gave full unauthorized access to hackers. Information like the use of emails and passwords, saved in the targeted servers, was exposed. Out of those 250,000 servers, 30,000 were in the United States alone.

It was figured out that ransomware of a new family was injected into the servers and infected the datasets, even the encrypted ones.

The event took place in many phases. The first exploit was reported on 5th January 2021, while the first beach was reported the next day, i.e., on 6th January 2021.

In March 2021, the data breach was fully accepted by Microsoft.

#15 – SITA

In February 2021, another data security breach happened, and this time the victim was air transport data giant SITA. The company confirmed in a statement that certain crucial information saved on its US servers had been breached.

Because of this information security breach, many airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Jeju Air, and Lufthansa were hugely impacted.

The Bottom Line

Data breaches are common and are likely to target all of us. However, one can save its neck by being a little extra vigilant. It is wise not to entertain any email, post, or message from unknown or unauthorized information. Keeping devices and software updated is also very crucial. Doing regular security audits can save tons of hassles. So, just stay aware and informed.

 

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