Stolen lives: 8 major hacks targeting personal data

by Umberto Bacchi | @UmbertoBacchi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 15:17 GMT

Broken computer keyboards are seen in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, December 13, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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As personal information thefts become ever more common, here are eight of the biggest hacks in history

LONDON, July 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Names, addresses and phone numbers of more than 100 million people were stolen in one of the largest hacks to date targeting U.S. bank Capital One, the firm said this week.

Personal data is a prized target for hackers as it can be sold on to criminals intent on using it for fraudulent purposes like applying for credit cards or taking out loans in someone else's name, according to cybersecurity experts.

As personal information thefts become ever more common, here are eight of the biggest hacks in history:

1. The internet giant Yahoo suffered the world's largest data breach, which affected about 3 billion accounts from 2013 to 2016. In April the company struck a $117.5 million settlement with millions of people whose email addresses and other personal information were stolen.

2. Login credentials for some 412 million users of adult websites run by California-based FriendFinder Networks Inc. were compromised in 2016, including for a swinger website and records from a video sex-chat site.

3. The Marriott International hotel chain disclosed in November that hackers had accessed up to 383 million customer records in its Starwood Hotels reservation system over four years. Exposed data included passport details, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers and payment cards.

4. Athletic apparel maker Under Armour said in 2018 that data from some 150 million accounts on its diet and fitness app MyFitnessPal had been compromised.

5. Roughly 147 million people had information, including social security numbers and driver's license data, compromised in a 2017 data breach targeting U.S. credit-reporting company Equifax. The company said last week it would pay out up to $700 million - the largest-ever settlement for a data breach - after regulators said it failed to protect the data and misled consumers as to how secure it was.

6. E-commerce platform eBay said in 2014 that hackers stole addresses, encrypted passwords, birthdates and other information after getting access to its entire database of 145 million user records.

7. Hackers stole data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards in 2013 from shoppers who visited stores of U.S. retailer Target.

8. Personal data of about 79 million people, including names, birthdays, social security numbers, addresses and employment and income information was compromised in a 2015 hack targeting U.S. health insurer Anthem.

(Sources: Reuters, Target)

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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