Insecure information technology systems have led to major problems for numerous organizations.

Computer security breachThe internet is so large that global internet traffic is estimated to be 1.1 zettabytes per year.* One byte is equal to a single character in a word. A zettabyte is 1 sextillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) 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.

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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 recently settled a $10 million class-action lawsuit brought by victims of the hack.


Yahoo has been the victim of two of the largest security breaches in history, one of which affected 500 million users and a second that may have compromised 1 billion user accounts. At least one of the 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.

U.S. Government

In 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management revealed that hackers had accessed extensive amounts of U.S. government data, specifically the records of everyone who had undergone a background check in the last 15 years. Compromised information included addresses, health information, financial history, and private personal details from 19.7 million people.

Sony Pictures

One of the most famous security breaches in recent history involved Sony Pictures. Hackers used phishing e-mails 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 e-mails 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 Committee

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 e-mails obtained during the hack were released during the 2016 U.S. presidential election . U.S. security agencies believe the hack was directed by the Russian government, an accusation with ongoing international consequences.

How Can You Help Prevent Security Breaches?

As more and more information ends up online, more and more of our information 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, you should consider earning a Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) degree.

A DIT degree can give you the deep understanding of information technology that you need to start or advance your career in the IT security industry. Thanks to online learning, you don’t even have to take time off to earn your Doctor of Information Technology. Through an online DIT program, you can complete the majority of your coursework from home on the days and times that work best for you, giving you the flexibility you need to continue working full time and handling your other responsibilities.

We need more top-level IT security experts. An online DIT program is an excellent choice for anyone looking to become such an expert.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Doctor of Information Technology degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*S. Pappas, How Big Is the Internet Really?, Live Science, on the internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

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