The Most Painful Examples of Data Loss

Data is a company’s most precious asset in the modern business world. It helps in advancing plans, tactics, and regular activities.As more and more processes are digitized and automated, the exponential rise in data volumes directly results from this trend. With this growth comes many more possible causes of data loss, including human mistakes, faulty hardware, natural disasters, and cyber-attacks. Losing data can have far-reaching and disastrous implications for businesses and individuals. Therefore, this post will overview several business data breaches and their impacts on a company’s reputation.

Examples of Data Loss In Modern Businesses

  • 2021 Facebook Contact Importer Breach

In April 2021, news spread that 500 million Facebook users’ private information had been exposed online. The details, which included phone numbers and email addresses, were published on a hacking forum open to the public. The data was obtained by exploiting a flaw in Facebook’s “Contact Importer” function, allowing the use of phone numbers in personal searches. Users in over a hundred countries were affected by the incident, which Facebook said occurred in 2019.

The Facebook data breach has far-reaching consequences because millions of users’ private data were compromised. Potential implications of the leak include increased vulnerability to phishing and identity theft. A Facebook statement issued after the incident stated the company had patched the vulnerability in 2019 and had no intentions of notifying affected users.

However, regulators and cyber-security experts blasted Facebook for being opaque and avoiding blame for a data breach.

  • 2021 Colonial Pipeline Breach by the Darkside Gang

In May 2021, a cyber-attack took down the pipeline system of Colonial Pipeline, a prominent American petroleum pipeline operator. DarkSide, the gang responsible for the attack, requested that Colonial Pipeline pay a ransom of $4.4 million to regain access to its systems.

Due to the attack’s disruption of the petrol supply chain, there were widespread panic purchases and shortages in numerous regions of the United States. Not only did the cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline disrupt the nation’s gasoline supply, but it also weakened the economy and threatened national security.

Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom and continued operations after the attack. Still, the episode sparked debate over the morality of giving in to cyber-criminals’ demands for money.

  • 2018 MyFitnessPal Attack

Around 150 million users had their personal information compromised when the popular fitness and nutrition app MyFitnessPal experienced a data breach in 2018. Hackers could access user email addresses, usernames, and passwords because of a database vulnerability in the app. There was severe damage to MyFitnessPal’s credibility due to the stolen data’s subsequent sale on the dark web.

  • 2018 Marriott International Inc. Attack

Among the major hotel chains in the world, Marriott International Inc. experienced a significant data breach in 2018 that exposed the personal data of over 500 million clients. At least as far back as 2014, the hotel chain’s reservation database had been the target of multiple cyber-attacks. Among the personally identifiable data revealed after the hack were the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of customers, in addition to their passport numbers.

Because of the security breach, Marriott answered several lawsuits, fines from regulatory agencies, and damage to its brand.

  • 2017 Equifax, Inc. Breach

Almost 147 million people had their social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses exposed in a data breach at Equifax Inc. in 2017. Equifax’s online application framework has a flaw that allowed for the hack because of a lack of prompt intervention. It took several months before the firm realized there had been a breach in security; unfortunately, by that time, the harm had already been done.

Since the breach occurred, Equifax has paid millions in fines and compensation to those affected. Moreover, the company has received criticism for its security procedures.

  • 2016 Uber Tech Hack

Almost 57 million consumers and drivers had their personal information compromised after a data breach at Uber Technologies Inc. in 2016. Hackers could obtain access to Uber’s databases because of a flaw in the company’s software. Sometimes, the stolen information included individuals’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and driver’s licenses. At first, Uber attempted to cover up the breach by paying $100,000 to the individuals responsible in exchange for their quiet and the destruction of the stolen data.

The ride-sharing company avoided regulatory sanctions but suffered reputational harm after the violation became public knowledge.

  • 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Breach

A notable cyber-attack was launched against Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. in 2014, which resulted in the company losing sensitive data, including unreleased films, confidential emails, and the personal information of its employees. There was speculation that hackers were motivated by displeasure with the availability of a divisive film. The cyber-attack severely disrupted Sony’s activities, and the corporation spent millions fixing the damage.

  • 2013 Yahoo Inc. Attack

Information from all of Yahoo’s 3 billion users was compromised in a data attack in 2013. The incident occurred because of a loophole in Yahoo’s security processes that gave hackers access to user accounts. User names, phone numbers, email addresses, and birth dates were among the information collected. Due to the breach, the regulator fines and Yahoo’s damaged brand contributed to the company’s eventual sale to Verizon.

  • 2013 Target Corp. Breach

More than 110 million customers were impacted after a data breach occurred at Target Corporation 2013, one of the top retailers in the United States. Attackers broke into Target’s payment infrastructure and stole sensitive information about the store’s customers, including credit and debit card numbers. Target received several lawsuits, fines from regulators, and a hit to its reputation due to the hack.

  • 2012 Dropbox Inc. Attack

Because of a data breach in 2012 at Dropbox Inc., the email addresses and passwords of millions of customers of the cloud-based file-sharing service were made public. Hackers could access user accounts on Dropbox because of a vulnerability in the company’s authentication system, which compromised the service. Using stolen information in phishing attempts and other forms of cyber-crime greatly affected Dropbox’s customer trust.

Data Backup and Recovery Strategies are Critical in Today’s Cyber Landscape

The data loss mentioned in the above scenarios emphasizes the need for comprehensive data backup and recovery strategies. A backup plan allows businesses to quickly recover lost data and reduce the effects of data loss. Data breaches caused by cyber-attacks and software vulnerabilities are avoidable with the help of effective security mechanisms and routine software updates.

In addition, companies need to take precautions to protect customer information. It is possible to encrypt data, restrict access to sensitive information, and monitor systems that contain sensitive information for any suspicious activity. Lastly, organisations must be forthright and honest regarding data breaches. Data breach cover-ups only exacerbate the problem and tarnish the company’s good name. Notifying those who could be affected as soon as possible and taking measures to stop any additional data loss is essential.

With full awareness of these threats, Storware is constantly improving its data backup software, making it an ideal solution to protect data from encryption or deletion. It is enough to mention functionalities such as: Immutable Backup Destination, Air-gap Backup or Tape Backup. If you are interested in testing Storware in your company – get the free Trial or contact us if you need a one-on-one demo.

Final Thought

Businesses and individuals alike can suffer serious setbacks if vital data gets hacked. Damage to one’s good name, monetary losses, and legal trouble are all possible results. Data backup and recovery procedures, strong security standards, and transparency in handling data breaches are all highlighted by the data loss scenarios presented in this blog post. By studying these instances, businesses can take preventative measures against data loss and cyber risks.

text written by:

Grzegorz Pytel, Presales Engineer at Storware