For some companies,2019 heralded an escape from what had been a bad year, and not necessarily because of poor results or mismanaged finances.
Ticketfly, Facebook and even Google fell victim to cyber-attack in 2018, leaking vast amounts of data including addresses, telephone numbers, bank and credit card details to the outside world and dark web. Not only have these breaches damaged the reputation and trust we have in some of the biggest brands, but may also end up costing both them and us financially.
Common Causes of a Data breach
A breach can occur for many reasons, it may be a simple mistake by an employee, who accidentally and inadvertently releases or shares sensitive data outside of the organisation or clicks an innocent looking link in an email.
Other causes can be more sinister such as a cyber-criminal (hacker) working to infiltrate your security to extract valuable information such as: credit card details, billing information, phone numbers, email addresses and even house addresses.
Hackers are smart and will work tirelessly to get through security systems. They usually accomplish this due to an error or hole in the security, the data exposed to whoever has the skill to take it! the effects of these attacks can be a critical blow to the victims of cyber-crime and the businesses whose reputation will be damaged (aside from the potentially huge fine)
Festivals with a Personal Data Give Away
In May last year, Ticketfly were the victims of a cyber-attack by a hacker named “IsHAKDZ”
This salubrious character managed to get hold of the companies’ database which held sensitive information on customers. Ticketfly who help customers buy tickets for events such as concerts and festivals, found its self-victim of a targeted attack, with the hacker gaining access to the personal information and phone numbers of around 27 million people. This blunder in security led to Ticketfly becoming victims of “IsHaKDZ” and left millions with their personal information exposed.
Our Global Social Media Friends at Facebook are not immune to such things and were also victims of cyber-attacks between July 2017 and September 2018. With millions of user’s spending hours, a day on the website, the data breach caused millions of people to be affected. Hackers found and exploited numerous vulnerable spots in the coding of the website and managed to acquire access tokens allowing them to obtain the accounts of an estimated 30 million people gaining access to all their personal information. Aside from acquisitions of election rigging this again caused, major problems for Facebook, as it seemed unlikely that the website could have been attacked so easily and to such an extent.
In Google We Trust?
Google, (whom we hope have the most robust security) were not attacked but fell victim to stupidity, accidentally releasing data thought to have been secured. This took place over a few days in November 2018. This was due to a glitch in the Google+ software that resulted in the personal profiles of 500,000 users being exposed online.
Not satisfied with that, in December 2018 another data breach (Google+) resulted in the profiles of 52 million users being put onto the internet. Again, mass amounts of private information were released onto the web such as; Their names, their employer and their email address. As of now Google plus has been shut down due to these breaches. Scary?
these companies generate huge revenues from us common folk and should have taken greater steps to prevent these breaches. It is not unreasonable to expect these companies to secure the vast amounts of our personal data they acquire to prevent our digital selves being sold to cyber criminals?
Whilst 2019 has been dubbed the year of GDPR fines, Hopefully it will see both businesses and consumers adopting a smarter and heightened focus on Cyber Security.