Biggest online data leaks of the century 

Cybercriminals are constantly planning new attacks. Here’s some of the unforgettable data outbreaks from the last 10 years.

Ashley Madison

Ashley Madison was founded in 2002 and is an online dating and social networking website promoted to people who are married or in relationships.

In July 2015 Ashley Madison was hacked and user data was seized. The hackers copied its customers’ data (including names, emails, home addresses, sexual fantasies and credit card information) and threatened to expose information personally identifying users if Ashley Madison was not permanently shut down.

Many users were afraid of being publicly humiliated because of the site’s policy of not deleting users’ personal data.

The hackers decided to leak more than 25 gigabytes of data containing details of its users.


WikiLeaks is a global, journalistic organisation that publicises confidential information and private media from unspecified sources.

The group has released numerous significant documents that have made headline news. Some are detailed below:

  • Iraq Apache helicopter attack

In April 2010 WikiLeaks released horrifying video footage from the 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed by an Apache helicopter (known as the Collateral Murder video).

  • Afghan War Diary

WikiLeaks published Afghan War Diary in July 2010. It was a collection of over 75,000 records about the war in Afghanistan not formerly available to the public.

  • Guantanamo Bay detention camp

In April 2011, WikiLeaks started publishing secret files relating to prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.


The PlayStation attack which took place in April 2011 is thought to be one of the largest data security breaches in history, with an unbelievable 77 million registered accounts having their personal details exposed. The outbreak forced Sony to turn off the PlayStation Network for more than three weeks.


eBay fell victim in 2014 whereby details of over 128 million users were leaked.

The hack exposed millions of passwords and other data including addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth.

The attackers managed to gain access to a database containing encrypted passwords and other data after obtaining a small number of employee log-in credentials.


In August 2014 approximately 500 private photos of various celebrities, with many containing nudity, were posted on 4chan, an imageboard website, and later spread by other users on websites and social networks.

The images were believed to have been acquired via a breach of Apple’s cloud service – iCloud.

It later turned out that the hackers took advantage of a security problem allowing them to make limitless attempts at predicting victims’ passwords.

Some felt that the distribution of the images was a huge privacy invasion, while some of the allegedly portrayed subjects queried their authenticity.

Missed a major breach? Leave us a comment!

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