Many daily transactions, from shopping to scheduling an appointment, or simply checking up on a friend, now take place online. While this offers tremendous convenience, it also introduces new risks such as data breaches. Hackers regularly access, steal, and exploit potentially sensitive data from online servers. As these information systems become more sophisticated in detecting and thwarting such cyberattacks, hackers adapt their methods to circumvent increased protections. 

There are many reasons why hackers steal data. It can be to disrupt the operations of an entity—a company or even a government—they have a disagreement with. It can be connected to a specific cause they believe in (hackers of this sort are called “hacktivists”). Hacking can be even used as a form of personal revenge. Quite often, however, it is a form of blackmail intended to extract money or something else of value from the target. 

How do hackers do it? Some gain access to systems using stolen passwords or by figuring out passwords that are not sufficiently complex. Some take advantage of vulnerabilities in poorly designed software to gain access to the data within. Others use malware, which may invite individuals to click a link that, without their knowledge, allows hackers to gain entry into their device or network. 

Ultimately, a data breach can: 

  • Cost billions of dollars. 
  • Compromise personal and financial information of individuals and companies. 
  • Disrupt business operations. 
  • Damage reputations of previously reputable, trusted organizations and companies. 

Recent High-Profile Data Breaches 
Let’s look at some of the biggest data breaches of the 21st century and the impact they had on companies and their customers. We’ll then explore certificate programs that can help cyber security professionals combat such breaches.  

WhatsApp is an app that enables users to make audio and video calls to other WhatsApp users anywhere in the world. While this app does a great job of bringing far-flung people together, 2019 cyberattack on the WhatsApp network resulted in ransomware infecting more than 1.5 billion users. The breach gave the attackers access to users’ contact lists, messages, and even cell phone cameras and microphones, creating a tremendous privacy breach. 

This popular but frequently controversial social media platform was also hacked in 2019. Due to inadequate security protocols, two apps were able to access and upload Facebook users’ comments, reactions, Facebook IDs, and other information. In addition, some 419 million phone numbers were stealthily collected through Facebook profiles. An estimated 20% of Facebook’s 2.6 billion users worldwide were impacted. Data from this breach was found posted on an online hacker forum as recently as April 2021. 

The software company Adobe experienced a data breach in 2013 that resulted in the theft of customer names, encrypted credit card and debit card information, login details, and more. The company later had to pay more than $2 million in a court case arising from the breach. 

Web services company Yahoo suffered a data breach involving 3 billion user accounts beginning in 2013 and continuing into 2014. The breach, believed to have originated at the behest of a foreign government, exposed birthdates, phone numbers and other contact information, and answers to security questions. Verizon later bought Yahoo at $350 million less than the asking price due to Yahoo’s weakened position in the market following the breach. 

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax’s own rating took a hit in 2017 when the social security numbers, drivers’ license data, dates of birth, and some contact information of 143 million consumers—nearly 40% of the U.S. population—were illegally accessed. 

More than 500 million users of the professional networking site LinkedIn had personal data, including phone numbers and email addresses, put up for sale on a “dark web” site in 2021. The dark web is a hidden part of the internet accessible by only one web browser and is home to many illegal transactions. 

Cyber Security Education Programs 
The University of Texas Permian Basin can help put you on the front lines of the battle against data breaches and other forms of cyberattacks. We offer 100% online cyber security certificate programs that can empower you with critical, immediately applicable skills no matter your present level of expertise or stage of career. 

Undergraduate Cyber Security Certificate Program 
Our 14-credit Undergraduate Cyber Security Certificate equips you with the technical and strategic knowledge necessary to  detect and explain cyber security issues in IT operations and software. As you complete the program, you’ll be empowered with techniques, skills, and tools that can help you in an entry-level job in cyber security. You can participate in this program in non-degree status, meaning you have not earned or are not currently earning a college degree. You may also add the certificate to an existing degree program at UT Permian Basin, once you’re formally admitted to that program. 

Graduate Cyber Security Certificate Program  
Master the skills you’ll need to move into advanced roles in your cyber security career. Our 12-credit Graduate Cyber Security Certificate examines advanced encryption techniques, shows you how to pinpoint network security vulnerabilities and breaches, and gives you the tools to prevent and counteract them. If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, we invite you to apply to this program! 

100% Online Convenience 
Our flexible, 100% online cyber security certificate programs enable you to complete your coursework from any location while giving your professional and personal responsibilities the attention they need. Many of our program courses are presented in an asynchronous format, which allows you to access lectures and more at your own convenience, 24/7. 

Help protect the valuable data of your family, your employer, and your country. Our 100% online cyber security certificate programs will show you how!