While cyber technology has provided enormous fillip to global social and commercial interaction but this facility is also fraught with inherent dangers particularly the increasing thefts of data of commercial concerns causing widespread worries. These security breaches have also caught plenty of media attention as many companies have had their customers’ information stolen over the past few years.
In 2015, 270,000 Facebook users agreed to use an app called “This is your digital life” as part of a study led by Cambridge University academic who claimed that his research would be used to create psychological portraits of Facebook users. However, he shared the information with data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica without participants’ permission. Cambridge Analytica then used the data during the last US presidential election campaign to predict and influence the election’s outcome. The personal information of more than 50 million users was analyzed by Cambridge Analytica. The app collected data not only from its 270,000 users but also from its users’ friends. In July 2019, Mark Zuckerberg’s social network was fined $5 billion for failing to protect its users’ data.
In November 2017, it was reported that Uber a company that connects customers with drivers via an app, failed to disclose a major data breach that occurred in October 2016. Hackers obtained personal information, such as the names, email addresses, and phone numbers, of 57 million users from all over the world. Approximately 600,000 US licence plate numbers were also stolen. To prevent the data breach from being revealed, Uber agreed to pay $100,000 to the hackers. In 2018, after the resignation of its CEO, Uber was ordered to pay $148 million to US authorities for trying to cover up the major security breach.
In November 2018, the Marriott Hotel group revealed that its Starwood chain had experienced a major data breach. After a few months of investigation, the company estimated that about 383 million guests had had personal information stolen. The company was unable to estimate the exact number of guests affected by the breach. That said, the hotel company was certain that hackers had obtained approximately 9.1 million credit card numbers, 5.25 million unencrypted passport numbers, and 18.5 million encrypted passport numbers. In July 2019, Marriott stated that it was facing a $124 million fine from UK authorities. The company believes the fine is unfair and intends to file an appeal.
In 2013, hackers illegally obtained the data comprising names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, hashed passwords and answers to security questions of about three billion Yahoo uses, that is, all the Yahoo accounts that existed at that time. The company recommended that affected users change their passwords. In 2019, Yahoo offered to pay up to $117.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by millions of victims of the security breach.
In April 2011, the PlayStation Network experienced a major cyber-attack. Hackers were able to access the names, addresses, birth dates, gender, phone numbers, usernames, passwords, and banking information of 24.6 million members. Given the urgency of the situation, Sony was forced to shut down the SOE servers for several days, in addition to implementing new security measures.
Due to the breach Sony had to pay a £250,000 fine to the British authorities in 2013.
Identifiers, encrypted passwords, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates: up to 145 million eBay users reportedly had their personal data stolen in 2014. Hackers are said to have breached the company’s internal network. In the wake of the cyber-attack, the popular auction site asked its customers to change their passwords. The company experienced a decline in revenue last year.
In 2014, hackers gained access to intimate photos of more than 100 celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Kate Upton, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Kirsten Dunst, and Selena Gomez. The photos were stored on iCloud. Celebgate, as the media called it, proved that no one was immune to having their personal data stolen. Two of the criminals behind Celebgate, George Garofano and Ryan Collins, were sent to prison. TW