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Data breaches 2018

It seems that no company is immune to data breaches – and some of the biggest global corporations have been affected by security leaks this year. Let’s take a look at some of the widely-reported data security breaches that happened in 2018.



Facebook made the headlines for big data breaches in two separate incidents this year. First, it was revealed in March that Facebook had been complicit in allowing data mining company Cambridge Analytica to deceive users into handing over personal details, which were then harvested and used for political gain.

Then in September, it was discovered that information on 50 million users had been accessed by a third party. This large-scale data breach was down to a problem with the platform’s “View As” button, which occasionally allowed hackers to log in to users’ accounts. Although no financial data or contact details were made available, the hackers did gain access to valuable data on name, gender, birth date and location. Any other apps that use a Facebook login could also be affected.

The combined blow to Facebook’s reputation is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the platform. In addition, the company faces significant fines and legal action as a result of the breach.

british airways

British Airways

In one of the biggest data breaches affecting UK citizens so far, the security of the BA website was compromised between 21 August and 5 September this year. The anonymous hackers gained the personal details and bank card data from 380,000 transactions that took place during this time – although the airline has assured the public that passport details remain safe.

Under the new GDPR regulations, it’s possible that BA could be fined up to 4% of its annual turnover, which means the breach could cost a jaw-dropping £500 million – in addition to any legal compensation it may owe.

cathay pacific

Cathay Pacific

Soon after the British Airways breach, Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific reported a massive security breach affecting 9.4 million passengers, whose passport numbers, identity card numbers and other sensitive data had been accessed back in March. Shares in the company fell by 6% when news of the data breach broke, and the airline is being investigated for non-compliance with privacy rules, by the Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.

Are data breaches on the rise?

While cyber criminals and hackers have always been active, the number of security breaches reported does seem to be rising. With the introduction of GDPR and the mandatory reporting of data breaches, more of these are coming to light, with a study into breaches reported to the UK Information Commissioner revealing a 75% increase in the past 2 years. Many of these were the result of human error, while a small but significant minority were down to deliberate and malicious hacking.

It’s clear that the penalties for companies responsible for data breaches can be harsh, so businesses must protect their data with a combination of policies, procedures and technology. Data encryption is a vital tool in the fight against cybercrime: contact us on 01727 537627 to find out more.

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