5 Worst Data Breaches Of 2014

August 7, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
Hacker Stealing Credit Card Number

Data breaches have unfortunately become a common occurrence in today’s society. It seems a newsworthy breach has taken place almost every week since the massive Target hack occurred in late 2013.

A data breach can cripple a business and cause havoc for consumers. According to a recent survey, 52% of people said they shy away from stores that have experienced a credit card data breach. Businesses are working hard to develop new technologies that keep their systems safe.

Here are the five worst data breaches thus far in 2014. These breaches affected a large number of different segments, from consumers to healthcare patients to students.

Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus, the upscale department store, was infected with malware and breached in January of 2014. Inspectors found the malware was the same used in the now infamous Target data hack. The damage wasn’t nearly as bad as Target, where as many as 110 million customers had their information stolen. In this case, nearly 1.1 million credit and debit cards were exposed. The malware, called RAM-scraping malware, was installed on terminals inside of Neiman Marcus stores. The data theft from Neiman Marcus has the store pushing banks to start issuing the more secure EMV credit cards used in Europe.

Snapchat

In January of this year, it was revealed that Snapchat had suffered a major data breach. These kinds of breaches are significant because Snapchat prides itself on the privacy of messages between users. The hackers were able to get their hands on 4.6 million Snapchat user names and phone numbers. While credit card information wasn’t stolen, many Snapchat users were shaken because of the private nature of the app. While the loss of personal privacy is real, many security experts have noted that having a telephone number or a Snapchat username exposed is not nearly as bad as having actual financial information or social security numbers in the hands of identity thieves.

University Of Maryland

The University of Maryland had two major data breaches this year—the first and the largest took place on February 18th, and it involved the records of roughly 288,000 people. The University of Maryland has since taken down various vulnerable websites and worked with federal agencies to shore up their websites’ security issues. The breach has shown that online security issues don’t only plague merchants, but also universities, where valuable personal and financial information about students is stored.

North Dakota University

Another institution of higher learning, the North Dakota University System, had a major data breach this year. More than 290,000 former and current students and staff had their personal information exposed in February. Investigators discovered the breach had been open since October of 2013. Although sensitive information such as social security numbers was put at risk, school administrators claim no personal information was accessed or stolen, and that the hackers were using the power of the North Dakota University System server to attack other computers.

Los Angeles County Department Of Health Services

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services had a major breach in the first quarter of this year, with over 168,000 patients having their personal data exposed to hackers and identity thieves. Patient names, social security numbers, medical and billing information was all put at risk, with county officials claiming they’d never seen a breach this large in Los Angeles County.

Data breaches are becoming increasingly common, which is a bad thing for consumers and for businesses alike. However, new technological advances look to curb the proliferation of identity theft. If you have been a victim of a data breach, it is important to make sure you work with the affected company in order to see what your next steps should be. You should also change all of your online passwords and get your credit or debit card replaced.

Using cash as a form of payment is a solid method of protection, but there are still institutions that need your personal information, such as banks, hospitals, and universities. We have seen these institutions attacked by data thieves as well. It is important to remain vigilant and stay on top of the news. While many institutions would like to keep security breaches quiet to keep up appearances, it is important to know when one has occurred. If a website that you use has had their database hacked, you need to immediately change your password, and if you have any credit or debit cards connected to that site, you’ll need to regularly check your statements to ensure that no fraud has taken place.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of August 7, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.