Data BreachesThe internet is a perfect place for thieves to attacks.

The Target data breach that took place during the 2013 holiday season served to kick off an entire year of major security problems for everyone from retail stores to hospitals.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that personal data is at risk in nearly every public transaction.

Each year, the United States loses approximately $525 million to cybercrime. 2014 saw five major attacks on a diverse range of businesses, targeting not only payment card information, but sensitive personal details as well.

eBay — The Largest Individual Breach of 2014

The eBay data breach affected more individuals than any other breach in 2014. Hackers accessed the personal data of 145 million users using credentials from three corporate employees. Though the breach took place sometime between late February and early March, it wasn’t discovered until early May. The hackers gained access to email addresses and encrypted passwords.

JPMorgan Chase — An Assault on Small Business

The JP Morgan Chase hack impacted 76 million people and 7 million small businesses. Hackers used a list of applications and programs running on JPMorgan computers to identify known vulnerabilities and potential entry points in the system. They gained access to names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails.

The Home Depot — Five Months of Compromised Data

Image via Flickr by frankieleon

The Home Depot is responsible for 60 percent of all revenue in the home improvement industry, which could be one reason it was such a tempting target for hackers. Fifty-six million credit card numbers were compromised. It took the retailer five months to discover the security breach and total damages are estimated at $62 million. The company also faced dozens of civil lawsuits in both the U.S. and Canada as a result.

Community Health Systems — Patient Information Exposed

Community Health Systems (CHS) is one of the largest hospital groups in the country. A hacking group known as APT 18 targeted CHS in an attack that some suspect has links to the Chinese government. This is the type of complicated case that will take more than an infographic or a few articles to truly comprehend. Though only four to five million people were impacted, the cost of the breach is estimated at between $70 and $150 million. Compromised information includes social security numbers and other personal patient data.

Michaels — Long-Term Malware Breach

The Michaels security breach stands out because it took the company nearly a year to detect the problem. Both credit and debit card information was stolen in a breach that affected 2.6 million cards at Michaels stores as well as another 400,000 cards used at Aaron Brothers stores, a subsidiary of Michaels. The financial impact of the breach is estimated at $13 million.

Faced with these numbers, it’s tempting to fantasize about a safe and secure life off the grid, but the reality is that most people have no choice but to put their faith in retailers, web sites, and health care providers who could potentially become targets of the next data breach. Keeping a close eye on the latest news in this area can help you react promptly to any threats and protect your data.