Global Hacker Attacks: The Last 5 Years [Infographic]

Once upon a time, all we had to do was warn our family members not to open that suspicious looking email, or to quit visiting that certain site (you know the one). These days, global cyber attacks, major security exploits and unprecedented data breaches have made it so that no one is safe, no matter how careful you are. It’s necessary to be constantly vigilant in order to protect your sensitive data.

Here’s a quick look into some of the terminology used in the Infographic below.

Cyber Attacks

This very broad umbrella term that covers any computing attack meant to destroy, harvest, or change information on anything from a personal computer device to computer networks and infrastructure. Hackers, whether they are working independently or for a group or organization, actively try to access sensitive data regularly. In the last decade, there have been suspicions that nation states are behind large-scale cyber attacks. Russia, North Korea and China have all been suspected.

Exploits and Vulnerabilities

Hackers often use tools that exploit vulnerabilities in computer security, that help them control systems and access protected sensitive data. Sometimes they have access to software, data, or problematic commands to exploit a system, again providing them the opportunity to access data or even manipulate or corrupt the system. Other times, hackers are more interested in installing malicious software, called malware, on a system, or ransomware, that then makes the system inaccessible unless a “ransom” is paid to the hackers. However, many times paying hackers does not help victims regain control over their machines.

Data Breaches

You’ll hear about large-scale data breaches on the news from time to time. Unlike hacks that target individuals, these hacks target large companies that have access to a lot of people’s sensitive data. Sometimes millions and millions of people are affected by these substantial attacks.

Protecting Your Sensitive Data

The bottom line is- if you would like to protect your sensitive data, you have to do some legwork. It’s important to regularly check for software patches and security updates for your personal computing technologies including your desktop computer, laptop and smart phone. It’s also important to consider whom you are doing business with and how much of a priority they take security. Many of the bigger data breaches reported in the last 5 years occurred because of negligence on the company’s part- they were not doing their due diligence to keep sensitive information safe.

Notable Security Issues

It’s easy to shrug off hacker activity until you see the numbers. In 2013 according to USA Today, the personal information of 3 billion Yahoo! users was accessed by hackers. 3 Billion Users. Hackers have gotten customer credit card information from Home Depot and Target. Last year’s Equifax breach affected nearly 145 million people, nearly everyone who has a credit history in the US, according to a Federal Trade Commission report. This year, major vulnerabilities were reported in most modern CPUs. Dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, almost every processor that has been manufactured since the mid 1990’s is at risk without security updates and patches.

It’s vitally important to keep an eye on your credit and bank accounts. Set up fraud alerts on your accounts. Report suspicious activity immediately. You may be doing your due diligence, but someone you are doing business with may not be.

These are just some of the notable issues we’ve seen the last 5 years. Things were fairly quiet in 2015 (we deserved a break!) with only the run of the mill, basic hacks recorded, but the last few years have made up for it.