The information of over one billion people was compromised in 2018, as many global companies such as Facebook, Google, Marriott International and Liberty failed to protect consumer data.
This is according to a report conducted by virtual private network service provider, NordVPN, which reviewed the most significant and worst data breaches the world faced in 2018.
“Credit card skimming, bugs and ‘leaky’ back-ends led to some of the biggest data breaches of 2018,” explains Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
“The scope of 2018 cyber attacks shows that even the biggest corporations are vulnerable and are prone to errors. This means that it’s becoming more difficult to trust them as we never know when our data is going to end up in the wrong hands.”
Social media ranked top for the highest number of records breached due to the high-profile customer data compromises by Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, was given permission to use more than 50 million Facebook profiles for “research purposes”. However, the news broke in March 2018 that instead, the company collected user information to create psychographic profiles to influence the US presidential campaign in 2016, explains Markuson.
In September, the social media giant hit the headlines once again, as it compromised the security of almost 90 million users. A bug in Facebook’s ‘View As’ feature was discovered that could be used to steal users’ access tokens, which keep the user logged into a Web site or a mobile app during a browsing session.
“Access tokens do not save the user’s password, so Facebook logged out everyone potentially affected to restore the security. However, hackers still managed to steal usernames, genders, and information about their hometowns,” explains Markuson.
As if this wasn’t enough to lose trust in Facebook, another bug was announced only a few weeks ago. It appeared that hundreds of third-party apps had unauthorised access to 7 million Facebook users’ photos.
“It’s unknown whether anyone had seen these photos or used them in any malicious way. However, it shows once more how much data Facebook collects and how little control they have over their cyber security,” notes NordVPN.
The biggest data breach of the year (if not ever) exposed the data of half a billion users. Global hotel chain, Marriott International, said hackers broke into its booking system and accessed customer data from the last four years.
Cyber criminals stoleMarriott-owned Starwood Hotels & Resort’s customer names, addresses, phone numbers, card numbers, passport numbers and even the information of where and who they were traveling with.
“Because this information wasn’t used for any known financial gains or identity thefts, there are rumours that this could have been a state-sponsored attack. A former British intelligence officer said that the aim of this attack could have been to get valuable information on spies, diplomats and military officials who’ve stayed in Marriott hotels over the years,” according to NordVPN.