In 2020, we already saw a massive amount of data breaches on a large scale basis that has affected thousands of internet users. A data breach is a security incident in which protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.
Data breaches expose your passwords, email addresses, credit information, home addresses phone numbers, and even steal your identity. Many breaches occur due to overexposed and unstructured data files and documents.
What Are Data Breaches?
Data breaches are when people hack into security systems and steal people’s information. They can hurt both business and a person by hacking into a website’s security system and stealing names, passwords, emails, financial information, social security numbers, etc. They can then take this information and use it against you, stealing any hard-earned money from either a business or a person.
Data breaches occur on the dark web, which is different from the surface web we are used to seeing. The dark web is when there is a collection of content that is not organized by search engine websites. It isn’t always used for bad intentions, but it is still a place that hackers love to go to steal people’s vital information.
Hackers can get on major websites like Amazon, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, etc. to steal your information. Even if you aren’t entering any suspicious websites, they are still able to hack your data from these major websites.
Which State Had the Most Data Breaches in 2020?
According to the IC3’s 2020 Annual Report, California has had the most data breach victims, with 5,377 victims residing in the state. In second place, we have Florida who has had 3,104 people who have had their data stolen, and in third place, Texas has 2,842 people who were victims of data breaches.
Find Your State Down Below:
The Top 10 States With the Most Victims:
- California – 5,377
- Florida – 3,104
- Texas – 2,842
- New York – 2,001
- Pennsylvania – 1,201
- Washington – 1,132
- Illinois – 1,072
- Virginia – 1,023
- Arizona – 946
- Ohio – 931
The States/Territories With the Least Amount of Victims:
- Rhode Island – 98
- Vermont – 74
- North Dakota – 54
- Wyoming – 54
- South Dakota – 52
- Guam – 10
- The Virgin Islands – 6
- US Minor Outlying Islands – 5
- American Samoa – 2
- The Northern Mariana Islands – 2
There has been a total of 35,732 reported data breach cases in the United States. In addition to this data, there are probably a lot more unknown cases in the United States. People have their data stolen from the dark web daily without even knowing it. This is why it is super important to keep yourself updated in checking your email to make sure no one is stealing your information.
Data Breaches in Recent Years
In 2019, MGM Resorts was reportedly hacked, leaving 10.6 million guests with compromised information. Within a week of the data breach, it was reported that 142 million hotel guests were likely impacted since a hacker posted an ad on the dark web attempting to sell details of 142,479,937 MGM hotel guests for a price just over $2,900.
On July 10, 2018, Macy’s had to inform their customers that a third party has hacked their database and had access to their accounts from April 26 to Jue 12, 2018. The hacks got access to names, phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates, and credit card numbers.
LinkedIn and Facebook Social Media Profiles
In October of 2019, social media profiles from different platforms ended up becoming public on an unsecured server. This data breach reached more than 1.2 billion unique people, making it one of the most significant data breaches in history. This leaked information contained email addresses, names, phone numbers, and LinkedIn and Facebook Profile information.
On July 4, 2018, Timehop experienced a data breach that exposed the names and emails of all its users, roughly 21 million people. 4.7 million of those users had their phone numbers stolen. Timehop has since put multi-factor authentication in place to prevent such a breach from happening again.
The Exactis breach affected approximately 340 million records from the marketing and aggregation firm. Exactis left its database exposed on a publicly accessible server, giving hackers access to a considerable amount of consumer information such as home address, phone numbers, and emails.
In 2018, Ticketfly announced a data breach that affected more than 26 million customers. They were forced to temporarily shut down its website after customer names, home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers were stolen.
Orvibo Smart Home Products
In July of 2019, Rotem and Locar found that there was an open database where more than 2 billion records were exposed from people who used Orvibo Smart Home Products. This affected individuals, businesses, and even hotels in multiple countries, including the United States, Mexico, China, Japan, Thailand, The United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Brazil.
This data breach was open for two weeks before Orvibo found out about it via Twitter and email. The types of data that was made public included email addresses, passwords, reset codes, precise geolocation, IP address, username, family names, etc.
In early June, 92 million email addresses and passwords from MyHeritage were exposed in a data breach. The genealogy and DNA testing company began encouraging all users to change their passwords and to sign up for two-factor authentication as soon as it becomes available.
TrueDialog is an American communications company based in Austin, TX. This company helps with SMS solutions for large and small companies and works with over 990 cellphone companies with 5 billion subscribers.
In 2019, 1 billion pieces of sensitive data were leaked in forms of SMS messages that were sent through this company. This included full names of recipients, the content of messages, email addresses, phone numbers, dates, and times messages were sent, etc.
In March 2018, Under Armor announced that 150 million users of its app, MyFitnessPal, had their information exposed. The stolen data included usernames, email addresses, and passwords.
First American Financial Corp.
First American Financial Corporation is the largest real estate title insurance company in the United States. In July of 2019, data leaked from its system, which exposed the records of 885 million individuals.
This included millions of documents that recorded mortgage deals from way back in 2003. This data breach leaked bank account information, mortgage and tax records, social security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and driver license pictures.
Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor
The owner of retail stores, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor announced a data breach in April that revealed the theft of more than 5 million users’ credit and debit card information. The series of attacks began in May 2017, and since then, the hackers have been selling this information on the dark web. The attack was discovered by Gemini Advisory, a cybersecurity firm that called the breach one of the biggest and most damaging ever to hit retail companies.
In March 2019, the U. S. Justice Department discovered universities had been targeted by a government based Iranian hacking scheme. Nearly 150 universities in the United States had 31 terabytes of intellectual property stolen via a phishing scam aimed at professors at the universities.
The attack is estimated to have caused over 3.4 billion worth of damages. The hackers attacked five U.S. government agencies and 36 private emails.
How to Prevent Data Breaches
Keep only what you need. Inventory type and quantity of information in your files and on your work computers. Here are more ways to prevent a business data breach:
- Safeguard your data. This could mean coming up with a strong password where sensitive information is stored or finding a special place for your data. You can get a hard drive, server, or system folder where it has specific protection methods for your private information.
- Destroy before you dispose of your information. If you have a hard drive with specific details on it that you would like to dispose of, make sure you destroy the hard drive before recycling it. This will allow your information to stay private since hackers will have no way of accessing the hard drive.
- Update work procedures. If an employee stole your data from your company, make sure it doesn’t happen again and download programs to monitor your computer. Also, come up with rules for your employees to follow, and if they are caught breaking said rules write them up.
- Educate/train employees. As soon as you hire your employees, make sure they are trained in what data breaches are and how to prevent them. Educate them on where to put hard drives after storing information, and also have them come up with multi-factor authorization when they are trying to protect your information.
- Control computer usage. Control who uses what programs and who sees what data within your company. If you only trust a specific group of people, or if you only trust yourself, then let that select group of people view that data.
- Secure all computers. Make sure that all computers have software to protect against data breaches. Also, make sure that each computer has a secure password to access it, and maybe even multi-factor authorization.
- Keep security software up-to-date. Make sure you update your security software on each computer to protect your business from data breach hacks.
- Stop unencrypted data transmission. If you aren’t on a secure website with “https://” at the beginning, then you may not want to be on that website. The less secure a website is, the more of a chance hackers can steal your information.
- Manage the use of portable media. If you are done using a flash drive or portable hard drive, and it is storing personal data, make sure to eject it from your computer and put them in a safe place.
As you can see from the incidents listed above, this is a severe matter affecting even the largest of companies with elaborate security in place. Data breaches will only increase as hackers become more and more sophisticated.
When you are cleaning out your personal computers, keep only what you need and be careful not to store too much personal information on them. Here are some ways on how to prevent a personal data breach:
- Create strong passwords and use multi-factor authorization if possible. When creating an account on a website, make sure you are choosing strong passwords that would be hard for a hacker to guess. Just in case the hacker can guess your password, put up a multi-factor authorization where you have to access another device to go onto the account.
- Keep your firewall up to date with any current updates that come out. If you are noticing that there is a software update for your firewall program, make sure to update it so that you are getting the best security system out there against data breaches. If you don’t update it frequently, hackers can find a hole in your firewall and utilize it.
- When guests come to your house, have them bring their own devices. Just in case your guest has terrible intentions, keep your devices private when guests come over and instruct them to bring their own devices.
- Change your passwords frequently. Hackers can guess passwords pretty easily and spot them once they enter the dark web. However, if you change your password often, then the password shared on the dark web will be invalid since it has been updated.
- Always monitor your bank accounts. If you notice any funky charges on your account that you didn’t do, call your bank immediately. This will allow you to see if your financial information has been compromised due to a data breach.
- Don’t open any suspicious emails or click on any questionable email links. This could be someone trying to steal your information through a link and using it against you. If you see any unusual emails, do not open them, and delete them immediately.
- Keep an eye on your credit score. If you notice any fluctuations in your credit score even though you haven’t borrowed or paid off anything, take a more in-depth look at what is going on with your credit. Make sure no one opened up a credit line under your leaked information.
Make a habit of checking your bank accounts and credit reports. Frequently monitor your personal information and statements. Keep your eyes open and be alert.
No matter what website you make an account on, you are still at risk of becoming a victim to data breaches. If you have an account with any website, whether it is an email or social media account, then someone could have your usernames, passwords, financial information, and other personal data. It is always good to stay protected by practicing multi-factor authorization, and making sure your firewall software is up to date. Even big businesses have been victims of data breaches, meaning you could be too.
If you suspect you are a victim of a data breach, use Social Catfish’s reverse search, specifically our reverse email lookup tool to assist you in resolving your problem: