The year 2015 will be remembered for many things, including a surprise election victory for the Conservatives, terrorist attacks in Paris and a dress that nobody could decide whether it was white and gold or blue and black. For businesses, though, 2015 will be remembered as the year of the security breach.
Countless companies – both large and small – fell victim to cyberattacks over the past 12 months, which caused irrevocable damage to the brand and the bottom line.
Among the biggest was TalkTalk, which saw a major incident affect nearly 157,000 of its four million customers. Of these, more than 15,600 had their bank account numbers and sort codes stolen. In a bid to repay those who had their details taken, TalkTalk announced a package of free upgrades, such as Sky Sports access for three months or a free SIM card that offers 100 minutes, 250 texts and 250MB per month for a year.
A similar hack to the Ashley Madison dating website gained the most notoriety of all the 2015 security breaches, perhaps because of its subject matter. As AshleyMadison.com allows married individuals to arrange affairs, there was significantly less sympathy for those affected in this breach. Also interesting was the data stolen, not just email addresses but full names, street addresses, telephone numbers and even sexual predilections.
British Gas was another big name that fell victim of the cybercriminals, when in October “someone external” gained information. The company maintained, however, that its systems were secure, meaning the 2,200 account passwords and email addresses could have emerged from a phishing scam.