How IT horror stories can help your business

Nobody – no matter how big you are – is ever 100% safe from an IT disaster.

Some of the most famous names in business have been hit with epic data breaches over the years.

Every day is a learning experience and with IT, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the security of your data.

There are several precautions you can take to secure your important business records to reduce the risks of a data breach or other preventable disasters.

7 Ways to prevent phishing and cyber attacks on your business

Sadly, throughout history, it was too late for some of these companies, who took a hit at the time.

But you can hopefully learn from their mistakes or oversights.

Social media breaches


Phone numbers, full names, locations, some email addresses, and other details from user profiles were posted to an amateur hacking forum in 2021. The leaked data includes personal information from 533 million Facebook users in 106 countries.


In 2014, Yahoo! suffered a massive attack which leaked the real names, email addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of 500 million users. Yahoo revised that estimate in 2017 to include all of its 3 billion user accounts. The breaches cost the company an estimated $350 million.


In 2016, the world learned 360 million MySpace user accounts were leaked onto LeakedSource and put up for sale on dark web market The Real Deal with an asking price of 6 bitcoin. The breach related to passwords created in 2013.


In 2012, the business networking site said 6.5 million passwords were stolen by attackers and posted onto a Russian hacker forum, selling for 5 bitcoin.


In 2018, US video messaging service Dubsmash had 162 million email addresses, usernames, password hashes, and other personal data such as dates of birth stolen. The data was put up for sale on the Dream Market dark web market. The company advised users to change their passwords.

Sina Weibo

Chinese social site Sina Weibo said 538 million real names, site usernames, gender, location, and – for 172 million users – phone numbers were posted for sale on dark web markets in March 2020.


In 2019, 218 million Zynga users were targeted by a hacker who hit the Draw Something and Words with Friends player databases. The hacker stole email addresses, passwords, phone numbers, and user IDs for Facebook.

Payment site breaches


A 2014 attack on eBay exposed its entire account list of 145 million users, including names, addresses, dates of birth and encrypted passwords. The auction giant said hackers used the credentials of three corporate employees to access its network and had complete access for 229 days.


A breach in 2017 compromised the personal info (including the social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases drivers’ licence numbers) of 147.9 million customers of US credit bureau Equifax.

Dating site breaches

Adult Friend Finder

In 2016, the FriendFinder Network, which included casual hookup and adult content websites like Adult Friend Finder,,, and, was breached. The stolen data spanned 20 years on six databases and included names, email addresses and passwords, and  was protected by the inadequate SHA-1 hashing algorithm.

Ashley Madison

In 2015, a hacking group stole more than 60Gb of company and user data of Ashley Madison, a site enabling extramarital affairs. The group threatened to release users’ names and personally identifying info if Ashley Madison would not immediately shut down. Resignations, divorces and suicides followed.

In January 2021, a hacker leaked the data of 2.28 million users of dating website MeetMindful that includes real names, Facebook account tokens, email addresses and geo-location information. The  1.2GB file was shared as a free download on a public hacking forum.

Productivity site breaches


In 2013, 153 million usernames and passwords were stolen from Adobe. The hack exposed customer names, IDs, passwords and debit and credit card information. The breach cost Adobe $2.1 million.


In May 2019, Aussie graphic design tool website Canva was attacked. Exposed were email addresses, usernames, names, cities of residence, and passwords of 137 million users. Canva says the hackers managed to view, but not steal, files with partial credit card and payment data.

Hospitality site breaches

Marriott International

In 2018, Marriott International was reportedly hit by Chinese hackers who stole the data of approximately 500 million of its customers. The breach was believed to have started in 2014 and was not discovered until September 2018.

Software faults


In 1990, AT&T’s long-distance telephone switching system crashed. 60,000 people  lost their telephone service completely for nine long hours while 70 million phone calls went unanswered. The problem boiled down to some stray C language code in a piece of software.

The Paderborn Baskets

A German pro basketball team was relegated to a lower division due to a Windows update in 2015.

The Paderborn Baskets, a second division German basketball team, was relegated to a lower division for starting a game late, due to a necessary 17-minute Windows update to the scoreboard’s laptop.

Key things you can do to avoid an IT disaster

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