What you can learn from 2017’s biggest hacks?

2017 has already seen hacks and data breaches to some of the biggest companies in the word. What can you learn from them?

2016 saw some of the biggest data breaches and hacks we have experienced, ranging from Yahoo and LinkedIn data breaches, to hotly contested hacks on the DNC by Russia during a surprising and unpredictable presidential race.

Facebook, Adult Friend Finder, Tumblr and DailyMotion all fell victim to digital keyboard warriors and it seems that cyber crime is only going to become more relevant as the digital age continues.

Cyber security and protecting assets from criminals has become a hot-button topic recently, as some of the largest companies in the world – who are often thought to be untouchable – are frequently having information leaked to the public. No company is safe from attack and it seems that business owners are given a weekly reminder to protect their data as another major hack hits the headlines.

It might not seem like such a big issue if your company is relatively small and you might not think that you are a worthy target for cyber criminals, but protecting your business from attacks online is crucial.

Here are the five biggest hacks of 2017 and what you can learn from them.


Source: Wonga hacks via Gizmodo

Payday loan firm Wonga’s data breach is believed to have affected up to 245,000 customers in the UK and even a further 25,000 people in Poland. The firm said it was ‘urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access to the personal data of some of its customers’.

The major problem was that the attack was launched on Tuesday and remained completely unknown to Wonga until the Friday, leaving victims under terrible personal risk over the week.

Wonga notified customers that an attack on their personal information had occurred via email. The emails said the data stolen may have included names, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, the last four digits of a card number, bank account numbers and sort codes.

If you are unfortunate enough to be attacked, ensure that you have ample security that will notify you immediately if a hacker manages to breach your wall. You will be seen as incompetent and uncaring if you do not respond quickly and with sincerity, and customers will be drastically switched off if you are not seen to be acting quickly.


Source: Cloudflare

While not technically a hack, Cloudflare’s data breach is a sharp lesson in ensuring that your software is bug free and not easily exploitable.

Personal messages sent on dating websites, Uber trips, and more were all leaked online after a problem with internet company Cloudfare’s software. A bug in the software, which is used by millions of websites, meant that unhashed and plaintext information was being published to the web between September 2016 and February 2017.

Hiring professional coders to make sure that your website and company is not subject to random bugs in the system will give your customers peace of mind.


Source: Wisbone

Wishbone, a social app that allows its users to create polls and get feedback on their ideas, had more than two million email addresses and 287,000 mobile phone numbers stolen from the site in 2017.

A group of ‘unknown hackers’ were said to have taken the emails, phone numbers, names, birthdates and genders from an unprotected database from the Wishbone app.

It was widely reported that the hackers ‘may have had access to an API without authorisation’.

Once a hack has been launched on your company, it is important to do your research in finding the cause and how the hackers were able to get inside amongst your data. It can prove crucial to protecting your company after the attack as happened as your critical eye will find other potential holes for criminals to breach.

PlayStation and Xbox forums

Source: PlayStation vs Xbox

More than 2.5 million gamers that use the XBOX360 ISO and PlayStation’s PSP ISO forums had their account details compromised. The details taken included email addresses, passwords and IP addresses.

The Telegraph reported the data breach happened in 2015 but has only just been found and made public. PSP ISO had 1.3 million account details taken and Xbox360 ISO had 1.2 million accounts hit.

Gaming companies are regular suffers of data breaches and attacks, highlighting the importance of regularly checking and maintaining the strongest possible protection for your companies data. Frequently updating your security can help curb a possible attack in the future and keeps you ahead of the curve.

WikiLeaks release secret CIA documents

Source: WikiLeaks.org

The US intelligence agencies faced fresh embarrassment after WikiLeaks published what it described as the biggest ever leak of confidential documents from the CIA detailing the tools it uses to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic devices.

The thousands of leaked documents, dubbed ‘Vault 7’, focussed mainly on techniques for hacking and reveal how the CIA cooperated with British intelligence to engineer a way to compromise smart televisions and turn them into improvised surveillance devices.

You would think that intelligence agencies would have some of the fiercest protection against cyber criminals in the world, but they are frequently a main target for attack. While you should do everything in your power to protect your customers data, it is crucial to raise awareness of this rising threat and open up a discussion amongst businesses that will give everyone the tools to fight back against the rising tide of hacks and data breaches.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for SmallBusiness.co.uk. He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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