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The Worst Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches of 2014

Compiling a list of the most crippling cyber-attacks and data breaches of 2014 is a real eye-opener. Regardless of the size or industry, no business is completely immune from these vulnerabilities. As such, these criminal acts are important to publicize because they highlight a larger point about the importance of cyber security. In many ways, 2014 was the year that businesses—and the public at large—finally realized just how vulnerable they are to malicious attacks. Here are five incidents that opened eyes:

1.  JPMorgan

Hackers who perpetrated the cyber attack on JPMorgan compromised information from 76 million households and 7 million businesses. Although the financial services company says there is no evidence that personal account information or passwords were stolen, a New York Times report stated the hackers “drilled deep into the bank’s vast computer systems, reaching more than 90 servers.” This incident was particularly troubling because banks were previously considered relatively secure against hacks.

2.  Target

Although the Target data breach technically occurred during the 2013 holiday season, the company and its customers felt the ramifications well into this year. In fact, the incident eroded customers’ trust and hurt Target financially to the point that former CEO Gregg Steinhafel eventually resigned. Perhaps most disturbing about this attack was that Target received security alerts about the malware hackers were uploading into the system but ignored these notifications because they were difficult to verify.

3. eBay

The e-commerce giant was compromised sometime in February or March, as hackers were able to steal employee credentials and steal somewhere in the neighborhood of 145 million user passwords. Unfortunately the year only got worse from there, as the company was hacked again in September, this time so thoroughly that some links on the site actually directed users to spoof pages setup by criminals to look like eBay pages and trick customers into unwittingly handing over personal information.

4Home Depot

In what can only be termed an unmitigated disaster, the home improvement giant had malware running on its systems for five months before the problem was detected. Criminals made off with 56 million credit card numbers, gathering the information from self-checkout lanes at the store’s brick-and-mortar locations. In an effort to improve its public image, Home Depot offered free identity protection services for victims and is still trying to untangle all the details of the incident to get a clearer picture of what happened.

5. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

The restaurant chain was compromised at 33 of its locations as hackers stole customer information from credit and debit cards. Amazingly, the intrusion went undetected from October of 2013 until June of this year before the Secret Service made the company aware that it had been breached.

Will 2015 Be Better?

Although hackers are always developing new techniques, businesses can drastically reduce the risk of an intrusion and make it easier to spot attacks as they happen by deploying network monitoring and cyber security solutions. For more information about how WildPackets helps protect organizations against criminals, download our white paper, “Real World Security Investigations With Network Forensics.”

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