Most Impactful Security and Privacy Scandals of 2018
2018 has seen its fair share of security and privacy scandals, with major leaks from big companies making the front news all throughout the year. So, in this weekly edition of the ZoogVPN Blog, we’ll take a look at the four biggest security and privacy scandals of 2018.
The Facebook – Cambridge Analytica Scandal
The Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal was without any doubt the biggest privacy scandal that occurred in 2018. It was much more than just a privacy and security breach, as it became a major political scandal. It erupted in March 2018 and was covered by all major media outlets, and reached front pages of the Guardian and BBC.
This scandal was revealed by a former Cambridge Analytica employee. After quiting Cambridge Analytica, he subsequently shed light on the fact that the popular political consulting site harvested personal data and information from over 50 million Facebook users. Most of the affected users were from the US. Cambridge Analytica illicitly harvested the data without the user’s consent and used it for political purposes.
Not only did this scandal knock off more than $100 billion off Facebook’s share price in just a few days, but it was also played a significant role in inciting public discussion on matters regarding ethical standards for online social media companies, websites, and political organizations. This privacy scandal eventually led Mark Zuckerberg to agree to testify in front of the US Congress.
The Aadhaar Records Breach
Aadhaar is regarded as the biggest and most sophisticated biometric ID system in the world. It’s issued by the Government of India and has more than 1.2 billion holders. In January of last year, while working on a research piece, The Tribune India managed to get login credentials to a service being offered by a group of anonymous sellers over the popular platform WhatsApp.
Using the service they could get a hold of any Aadhaar number to any of the 1.2 billion Indian citizens. As a result, they could retrieve data on all of the information stored by the Unique Identification Authority of India. The leaked data included personal information like name, address, phone number, photo and more. Besides this, they managed to get access to software which anyone could use to print out an ID card of any Aadhaar identification number.
Although the legal battle has drawn to a close, the question still remains – can the Indian Government can fix the Aadhaar system and prevent something like this from happening in the future?
The Exactis Marketing Firm Scandal
In terms of pure numbers, the Exactis Scandal was the biggest privacy scandal that hit the US. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint on how many users had their data compromised. But the number goes as up as 340 million people. Subsequently, the affected US citizens had similar repercussions as the Aadhaar scandal.
The Florida-based marketing agency exposed a database containing people’s home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and a lot of other information in this massive privacy leak. Every person’s record reportedly had detailed information consisting of more than 400 variables, including data on how many children they have, whether they are a smoker, own a dog or a cat and other information going into somewhat disturbing depth. This lead to heavy criticism of Exactis, but not much has changed since the incident.
MyHeritage Data Leak
MyHeritage is an online genealogy platform developed more than a decade and a half ago by an Israeli company. It’s the biggest platform of its kind and holds over 9 billion historical records, available in 42 languages. Over 90 million records were breached in June 2018. According to the statement published by the company, the compromised data included some information about the website’s users. Luckily, the leak didnt reveal any financial information about the website’s users. This is because MyHeritage relies on other third-party payment systems to process the transactions that go on their website.
The MyHeritage security breach might not have been the best-covered security and privacy scandal in 2018, but it showed us that no website is safe from these issues. Even under such circumstances, MyHeritage handled the situation excellently and hired an independent cybersecurity company to review and investigate the breach.
Be Smart, Get a VPN
If there’s anything the security and privacy scandals of 2018 have shown us, it’s that anyone could be the target of a security breach, no matter where you are and how careful you are. That’s exactly why you should always strive to maximize your security by adding different levels of protection to your data. Don’t explicitly trust companies with your private information and always be vigilant when online. Keep in mind that if you’re not using a VPN and an antivirus on all of your devices, you are putting yourself at big risk. Make sure you secure your private information today and get a reliable VPN service for just a couple of bucks per month, only with ZoogVPN.