Major Data Breaches: Chronology & Average Cost

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
With dozens of data breaches a year, it's hard to keep track of the most important ones. This lesson details several major data breaches and explains how the cost is calculated.

What is a Data Breach?

While it may not sound like something that can really affect you, data breaches are a big deal. If a company that has access to your data is breached, you could end up spending hours on the phone resolving the breach, as well as changing numerous cards. In fact, you could end up even having to pay a company $100 to help monitor what you can't always access, like your credit report!

With more and more information being stored online, people and companies are at increasing risk of having their data hacked. Any time that someone who is not authorized to see information sees it, whether accidental or on purpose, a data breach has occurred. Data breaches are a serious concern for companies that have been entrusted with millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of information. In this lesson, we're going to look at some of the most recent major data breaches, specifically those since 2010, as well as how companies and others attempt to calculate the costs of these breaches.

Major Data Breaches

Data breaches happen almost every day. However, some are more notable than others. Here is a list of some of the biggest data breaches since 2010:

  • In 2011, Sony's PlayStation Network was hacked. The resulting data breach affected almost 80 million gaming subscribers.
  • Throughout 2013, Edward Snowden leaked confidential information from the National Security Agency and other government sources.
  • Late in 2013, Target was hacked, with 70 million credit and debit cards compromised.
  • In August 2014, personal photos of numerous celebrities were accessed and put for public display.
  • In November of the same year, Sony was hacked by North Korean agents in protest of the film The Interview. Secret e-mails, salaries, and even home addresses of Sony employees were made public.
  • Finally, in July of 2015, online-dating site Ashley Madison was compromised, leaking 37 million subscribers.

Calculating the Cost

As you might expect, even a minor breach can cost millions to repair. However, it is not simply repairing the access point of the breach that must be addressed. All of that data has value, and much of it, such as social security numbers and bank account information, cannot simply be replaced. Instead, it must be protected. This monitoring costs a considerable amount - many services that protect individuals start at around $100 a year. Considering that many companies and organizations offer identify monitoring in the immediate aftermath of a breach, if a breach affects a million customers then the cost can skyrocket to hundreds of millions of dollars. While a company may be tempted to shift this cost to customers, many companies pay it themselves to avoid losing business.

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