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Information Technology Anguish: The Worst Security Breaches Ever
The internet is so large that global consumer internet traffic was estimated to be 292.8 exabytes per month in 2022.1 One byte is equal to a single character in a word. An exabyte is 1 quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) bytes. Needless to say, a lot of information is zooming around the world. And while some of it is no more valuable than an offhanded tweet, some of it is worth quite a lot. From credit card information to Social Security numbers to government secrets, the internet holds a trove of data that criminal hackers would love to get their hands on. Sometimes, they do.
Here are some of the biggest data breaches information technology professionals have had to deal with in recent years.
In 2013, Target’s IT security failed to such a degree that hackers spent nearly a month accessing customer data, including credit card data. It’s likely that Target’s entire point-of-sale system was compromised during the breach. All told, the hack affected 70 million customers and hurt Target’s reputation and bottom line. The company incurred $202 million in losses, including an $18.5 million settlement payout and a $10 million class-action lawsuit brought by victims of the hack.
Yahoo was the victim of one of the most widespread security breaches in history, starting in 2013 and exposing over 3 billion user accounts. At least one of the series of hacks used a sophisticated system of forged cookies to gain account access without a password. In addition to stealing customer data, the hackers were able to decrypt user passwords, which could help them gain access to user accounts at other sites.
In 2021, hackers took advantage of a few coding errors to target Microsoft Exchange email servers, one of the largest email servers in the world. For three months, they gained unauthorized access to the information of everyone from small businesses to local governments—deploying malware and taking over servers. Sixty thousand companies were affected worldwide.
One of the biggest security breaches to date in the entertainment industry involved Sony Pictures. In 2014, hackers used phishing emails to trick Sony employees into implanting malware on the company’s systems, giving the hackers access to over 100 terabytes of data. The hacker group responsible released private emails of top executives, creating controversy and embarrassment. The group also demanded Sony cancel the release of The Interview, a movie that negatively portrays the government of North Korea. This led to speculation—and ultimately a formal U.S. accusation—that the nation of North Korea was responsible for the hack.
Democratic National Committee4
While not as large as other breaches in terms of the amount of compromised data, the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made international headlines when private emails obtained during the hack were released during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. security agencies believed the hack was directed by the Russian government, an accusation that had ongoing international consequences.
How Can You Help Prevent Security Breaches?
As more and more information ends up online, more of it is vulnerable to hackers. To stop criminals from accessing important data, we need exceptional information technology professionals capable of developing strategies to keep data secure. If you want to play a leadership role in this vital field, consider earning an MS in Cybersecurity or Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) degree from an accredited institution such as Walden University.
Start or advance your career in the IT security industry by developing the deep understanding of information technology that you need. Thanks to online learning, you don’t even have to take time off to earn an MS in Cybersecurity or Doctor of Information Technology. In an online DIT program or master’s-level cybersecurity program, you can complete the majority of your coursework from anywhere with an internet connection when it works best for you, giving you the flexibility you need to continue working full time and handling other responsibilities.
We need more top-level IT security experts. An advanced online program in cybersecurity is an excellent choice for anyone looking to become such an expert.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering Doctor of Information Technology and MS in Cybersecurity degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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