After tallying them all up, 2018’s cyber attacks might not have come across as anything new to most individuals. However, while the number of people affected by data breaches in 2018 did not necessarily hit new records, the volume of attacks and as well as the number of individuals affected still signifies that this is a problem that won’t be going away any time soon.
In 2018, billions of individuals were affected by data breaches. Cyber attacks increased by 32 percent over the prior year within the first three months of 2018, and a full 47 percent between April and June. In fact, 765 million people were affected in the months of April, May, and June alone according to the global digital security firm, Positive Technologies. The losses from those three months alone cost tens of millions of dollars.
Despite the increase in the number of attacks, however, 2018 did not experience a breach as substantial as the 2017 Equifax breach in which over 143 million Americans were affected. While 2018 did not experience a single substantial breach to the magnitude of the Equifax breach; it still suffered threats of great magnitude. For example, the recent Marriott hotel chain breach is already being touted as one of the largest breaches in history, involving over 500 million individuals who had made reservations at Starwood properties prior to September 10, 2018. This breach may have involved the theft of customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, and dates of birth, amongst other information.
Additionally, 2018 also saw the personal information of as many as 100 million to 300 million users of the “question-and-answer” website Quora compromised, as well as the user account and password information of Dunkin Donuts’ DD Perks program members.
Earlier in the year, Under Armour also experienced a hack involving roughly 150 million users through its food and nutrition website, MyFitnessPal. Similarly, the Canadian-based parent company of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay, saw approximately 5 million credit and debit card user’s personal and financial information stolen across North American in April. Moreover, Facebook was not without its own controversy, having approximately 29 million accounts hacked in September with hackers obtaining user’s sensitive personal information from approximately half of these users.
As these attacks continue to occur, experts have deemed that they are no longer insulated occurrences. Rather, these breaches appear to be interconnected, which makes each successive breach more troubling. Experts advise that, in order to protect themselves, individuals need to take steps including (1) using unique passwords; (2) being suspicious of phishing emails; (3) updating software in a timely fashion; and (4) freezing credit and taking other measures if you’ve been or suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft. While these steps may not solve the cyber data breaches, they will help minimize the impact of those breaches.