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“In 2014, data breaches touched individuals on a scale not seen before, in terms of both the amount and the sensitivity of the data that was stolen. These hacks served as a wake-up call to the world about the reality of living a digitally dependent way of life—both for individuals and for corporate data masters.”
“Most news coverage of data breaches focused on losses suffered by corporations and government agencies in North America—not because these systems were especially vulnerable, but because laws required public disclosure. High-profile attacks affected millions of accounts with companies including Target (in late 2013), JPMorgan Chase, and eBay. Midway through the year”, it was revealed that the Obama Administration’s United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked via out-sourced contractors connected to the Chinese Communist government and “that highly personal (and sensitive) information belonging to 18 million former, current, and prospective federal and military employees had been stolen. Meanwhile, information associated with at least half a billion user accounts at Yahoo! was being hacked, although this information wouldn’t come out until 2016.”
Data from organizations outside the US was no less immune. The European Central Bank, HSBC Turkey, and others were hit. These hacks represented millions of victims across a spectrum of industries, such as banking, government, entertainment, retail, and health. While some of the industry and government datasets ended up online, available to the highest bidder in the criminal underground, many other datasets did not, fueling speculation and public discourse about why and what could be done with such data.
The 2014 breaches also expanded the public’s understanding about the value of certain types of hacked data beyond the traditional categories of credit card numbers, names, and addresses. The November 24, 2014, hack of Sony Pictures, for example, didn’t just temporarily shut down the film studio: the hackers also exposed personal email exchanges, harmed creative intellectual property, and rekindled threats against the studio’s freedom of expression, allegedly in retaliation for the studio’s decision to participate in the release of a Hollywood movie critical of a foreign government.
Perhaps most importantly, the 2014 breaches exposed the generally poor state of software security, best practices, and experts’ digital acumen across the world. The seams between the old world and that of a world with modern, networked technology were not as neatly stitched as many had assumed.”
Since 2014, high-profile data breaches have affected billions of people worldwide.