The Top 10 World’s Biggest Data Breaches


There is no doubt that the Internet and computers have significantly improved our lives, but the use of both is not without risk. One of the risks of storing data on your computer and having it connected to the web is that it can be hacked at any moment. Unless you use resilient IT services to manage and protect your networks, your data can fall into the hands of unscrupulous people.

There have been several data breaches over the last few years, most of which have occurred in the United States. It is estimated that close to one billion users of computer systems have been affected by data breaches just this year.

Here are the top 10 world’s biggest data breaches:

1. Yahoo! Data Breach (2013 & 2014)

Yahoo had its data breached in 2013 and 2014. It is believed that the number of email addresses affected in total was close to 3.5 billion, making it one of the world’s biggest data breaches. The exact monetary loss of this data breach for consumers is still not known, but there is definite information that data was leaked and people’s accounts were hacked. The hackers are believed to be Russian but were never found or convicted.

2. First American Financial Corp. Data Breach (2019)

First American Financial Corp also had its data breached in 2019. It is estimated that nearly 885 million accounts were hacked. The digitized records which included wire transaction receipts, bank account numbers and statements, tax and mortgage records, Social Security numbers, and drivers license images were all available to any individual with computer access, putting all this important information into the hands of any data hacker on the web.

The key reason for this breach was lack of adequate online security on the part of the First American Financial Corp.

3. Facebook Data Breach (2019)

Facebook was affected by a major hack recently that involved around 540 million accounts. The hacking exposed user phone numbers, personal photos, business transactions done with Facebook, and other personal data. It instantly became one of the world’s biggest data breaches ever.

Again, lack of proper security was a major reason for this breach and although Facebook has since claimed to have improved its system, there is no guarantee that this won’t happen again. Keeping in mind the fact that Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms, the problem of data breach is clearly very serious today.

4. Marriott Data Breach (2018)

Marriott International had its data system hacked in 2018 exposing nearly 500 million accounts worldwide. The initial breach actually occurred in the IT systems that supported the Starwood hotels sometime in 2014.

The hackers remained undetected in the system even after Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016. It wasn’t until September 2018 when the hackers were discovered by chance. The data loss exposed credit card numbers, personal IDs, date of birth, passport numbers, arrival and departure information, and other personal information. Forensic analysis revealed that the hackers were from China and were seeking to gather personal data on American citizens. it is believed that this may have been a foreign-state sponsored hack, but nothing has been proven and nobody has ever been convicted.

This is usually the case with most online hacks as the hackers are very skilled at what they do and leave no traces behind.

5. Friend Finder Networks Data Breach (2016)

Friend Finder Networks (FFN) was hacked in 2016 and affected nearly 412 million accounts. The FFN website describes itself as the “world’s largest sex and swinger community.”

The hackers collected around 20 years of data from at least six databases that included email addresses, passwords, personal information of users like the type of sex partner, sexual preferences, married/single and whether one was seeking an extramarital affair. In addition, credit card data information was stolen by hackers, thought to be Russian. Again, the reason for the successful hack was poor security.

6. eBay Data Breach (2014)

EBay had its data breached in May of 2014 and involved close to 145 million users. The online giant auction website claimed that the breach exposed addresses, names, encrypted password, IDs, and date of birth of all 145 million users. The hackers got access to the network using credentials of corporate employee and had complete access to the site for nine months.

7. Equifax Data Breach (2017)

Equifax was hacked in 2017, resulting in 143 million consumer data exposed. The hackers infiltrated the company’s network and stoke names, social security numbers, date of births, and addresses.

8. Heartland Payment Systems Data Breach (2008)

Heartland Payment Systems had nearly 134 million credit card data exposed as a result of spyware installed on to the Heartlands Data System in 2008. The data breach cost nearly $200 million to the company, banks and insurance companies. In this case though, the hacker was caught and received a 20-year prison sentence.

9. Target Data Breach (2013)

Target stores had a data breach back in 2013 when hackers gained access through a third-party vendor into the company’s point-of-sale (POS) system thus getting access to nearly 40 million credit and debit card numbers.

10. Uber Data Breach (2016)

Uber was hacked in late 2016 and the personal information of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers was exposed. This breach will also be remembered in history because of the messy way it was handled by the company as they paid the hackers ransom money to destroy the data. This just got them into more trouble.

Any time a private company endures the pain of a data breach, customers lose confidence in that organization’s ability to protect their personal information. Although corporate security has greatly improved over the years, especially as corporations compete against millions of unscrupulous hackers, there is always room for improvement.