There’s no way around it: 2014 is the year of the data breach.
Over the weekend, hundreds of photos allegedly stolen from celebrities’ personal devices were released online, prompting an investigation from Apple (AAPL) into its iCloud security measures, as well as a lengthy conversation over privacy.
These incidents continue a long list of data breaches in 2014:
- In January, Neiman Marcus announced that its systems had been hit with malware that may have compromised payment information from as many as 110 million customers.
- The University of Maryland was hit in mid-February by a cyberattack that exposed personal information of students, staff and faculty.
- American Express (AXP) discovered a data breach in March that exposed names and account numbers for roughly 76,000 customers.
- The government isn’t immune, either: About a month before taxes were due, the IRS reported that an unencrypted flash drive was plugged into an unsecured network, potentially leaking personal information for 20,000 IRS employees (no other taxpayer information was affected)
- In April, Michaels Stores (MIK) confirmed that its systems had been hit with a malware attack that affected as many as 2.6 million customers’ cards.
- That same month, AOL (AOL) discovered that “unauthorized access” to user account information was the cause of a sudden uptick in spam attacks.
- At the end of June, Butler University discovered that an attack from 2013 had exposed personal information for students, faculty, staff, alumni and even past applicants.
- In July, Yahoo (YHOO) reported that 453,000 user names and passwords had been compromised in a data breach.
- UPS (UPS) discovered in August that a malware attack had put names, addresses and payment information at risk for customers at some of its locations.
- And just a week ago, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) yielded customer data in a large-scale attack that targeted major financial institutions.
Again, these are only high-profile data breaches — and only a selection from a much larger group. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there have been more than 500 data breaches so far this year, exposing information for more than 18 million people.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.