As many of you know, this has not been a good year for online security. So far, we have had tons of hacking attacks, ransomware attacks, as well as major privacy breaches pretty much everywhere you look.
Sensitive data leaks have become a daily occurrence, and all that info either ends up in the news, or someone uses it against someone else. Whether it is to damage reputation, steal money, or something else. The point is, it is bad, and privacy is now quite an issue.
Many companies have taken measures to increase their defenses and put the privacy of their clients, partners, users, and employees in the first place. And that is admirable. However, there are some of them that did not think that they should bother, and they did not take your privacy seriously.
What happens then? Well, here are some examples of just that.
Mistakes of Yahoo
Yahoo was hit on two separate occasions, and the number of stolen accounts exceeds 1.5 billion. The first breach was back in 2013, and the second one only one year later. Apparently, Yahoo did not learn its lesson after the first hack, and it took the company two entire years to go public about it.
That means that for two years, 1.5 billion people were using potentially compromised passwords, without even knowing it. This hacking of Yahoo is easily the biggest breach in the internet history. Despite the breaches and the number of accounts that hackers were invading, we can still use it as an example of what not to do. It is a duty of such large company to secure its servers and provide a safe environment for users.
Also, use it as an example of why it is important to use password managers and to change your passwords on regular basis.
AOL’s data leak
For most of its existence, AOL has had a decent reputation, which even had some major spikes. However, there was that one time when this instant messaging service released up to 2GB of search logs belonging to their users.
This was back in August of 2006, and the data in question contained about 20 million search queries that the company was collecting during the three months prior to release. Of course, the names of all the users were still anonymous, and AOL was in practice of giving each user an ID number instead of the name.
However, there were enough keywords that not even a code name was able to protect some users from identification, and The New York Times was able to identify them via logs.
The worst thing about this is that AOL did not delete this info immediately. Instead, all of the private data that was leaking spent the entire day out in the open. We can’t begin to describe how dangerous that was when it comes to users privacy, but also for their safety.
Google Street View
When Google Street View project first began in 2006, there were many concerns about people’s privacy. You know how all the faces and registration plates are blurred on the Street View now? Well, there was none of that back in ’06.
You could see everyone and everything, which was quite a problem for everyone. And since it was such an issue, the company was searching for a way to deal with it and work it out. They were trying out many upgrades and different changes since then until the people’s demands were met. Finally, everyone got their anonymity on Google’ camera.
Your private data is going public via Facebook
Facebook is known for letting you customize your privacy so much that it can take you hours to set it all up perfectly. However, it wasn’t always like that. Back in 2010, a new update came overnight. This update made a lot of private information on users’ accounts completely public.
That means age and gender, school and work, date of birth, and many other pieces of information now became completely public. Anyone could see this, and it was one so that advertisers could have a better insight into your privacy.
Of course, there was still an option to modify your privacy and increase the levels of protection. However, many were completely confused by this development, and they also had troubles navigating. All in all, this was not Facebook’s greatest day.
LinkedIn had its own issues as well
Back in 2012, LinkedIn has had its own issues, and the biggest one was revolving about the theft of over 6.5 million users’ passwords. It was quite a scandal and a huge privacy breach, but as usual, things got better, and the incident was almost forgotten.
That is, until 2016, when 100+ million passwords from LinkedIn dawned on the Dark Web. Experts were analyzing the content that was for sale on the Dark Web. They were sure that this is a direct consequence of the hack from 2012. Now, LinkedIn was claiming that the number of stolen passwords was around 7 million. If we add another 100 million that they apparently were not even aware of, then we have 117 million passwords that hackers stole in total.
As you can imagine, this did not fix the overall impression of the site or its security measures. True, the site still had powerful encryption on the passwords. However, that was not enough, and they did not store them adequately enough. Hackers found what they could use pretty soon. So, despite all the effort, LinkedIn has had a poor execution, which led to this breach.
Yes, even McDonald’s has had such issues. In 2010, they were having a contest that would give away 10,000 MP3 players to customers from Japan. The competition was a huge success, of course.
However, it soon became clear that something is wrong with the prizes and that a QQpass trojan has made them its home. It was collecting and transmitting usernames and passwords of its new users to its old hackers whenever you connect MP3 to a computer.
McDonald’s Japan did a quick recall as soon as they found out about this. They even set up a hotline that would help customers in trouble. Still, the hackers were much faster than that, and the damage was done by the time everyone found out about the issue.
Your privacy is important. It matters. Losing private data can lead to many problems, including money theft, identity theft, and more. If someone got to your private data, they could ruin your life if they chose to do it.
That is why it is important to protect your data as best as possible. Do not post online what you don’t have to. If you must post something, try to make it as little as possible.
Other than that, keep your software up-to-date, and you can also try using VPNs. TorGuard, in particular, is a very good provider, and it will protect you and your data. Remember to keep it on whenever possible, especially if you are connecting to a public network. There are many guides online on how to protect your devices, so you should find them, and follow them.