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The 7 biggest data breaches in history

Over the recent years, data has mutated into an invaluable commodity. Information, whatever it is connected to, has become the subject of endless wars between hackers and big corporations. As a result, data breaches happen almost every day. However, some leaks have more impact than others by virtue of how many victims they affect, and how much damage they cause.

Companies targeted by hackers


Once hailed as one of the most prominent online portals of all times, Yahoo has now fallen from grace. Back in 2013, the tech company suffered two major data breaches in September and December, each of which compromised 500 million accounts and 3 billion accounts respectively. Given that the breach put the totality of Yahoo users at risk, the tech company was sold off to Verizon for 350 dollars less than the originally convened price.

Adult Friend Finder

In October of 2016, the Adult Friend Finder network, which included websites such as Penthouse.com, Cams.com, Icams.com, and Stripshow.com, was infiltrated. A massive leak ensued, comprising the names, email addresses, and passwords of more than more than 412.2 million accounts - the equivalent of 20 years of data.


The 145 million users of the online store might be surprised to learn that all of them have been the victims of a data breach back in May of 2014. The perpetrators of the crime infiltrated eBay by using the credentials of three corporate employees. However, only names, addresses, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords were exposed. As credit card information was kept safe due to it being stored separately, the impact of the hack was minimal. Instead, the company even registered an increase of 13 percent in revenue in Q2 of 2014.


Equifax is one of the largest credit bureaus in the United States. In July of 2017, 143 million consumers had their Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses, and drivers' license numbers leaked, while 209,000 consumers had their credit card data exposed.

Heartland Payment Systems

In March of 2008, when Heartland Payment Systems was processing 100 million transactions per month for 175 000 different merchants, a massive leak revealed information linked to 134 million credit cards. The data breach was triggered by SQL's installation of spyware on Heartland's systems. As a result, the company was suspended by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Aside from not being able to process any payments until 2009, Heartland Payment Systems also had to reimburse an estimated $145 million to the victims of fraudulent payments.

Target Stores

The retail giant suffered a data breach just before 2013's Thanksgiving, even though the happening was only made public a few weeks after. A total of 110 million people were compromised and information about 40 million credit cards was leaked. Consequently, the Target's CIO and CEO resigned in Mar and May of 2014 respectively. Overall, it has been estimated that the damages caused by the breach amounted to a whopping $ 162 million.

TJX Companies, Inc.

The data breach suffered by TJX Companies Inc in December of 2006 remains blurry to this day. Some analysts suggest that hackers gained access to credit card data through weak system encryption during a wireless transfer between two Marshall's stores in Miami, Florida. Others advance that the TJX network was infiltrated thanks to the in-store kiosks that would allow people to apply for jobs electronically.
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