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March 9, 2016

A Glimpse of 2015’s High Profile Hacks

Image courtesy of (renjith krishnan) /

The digital era has many advantages when it comes to dealing with information. Information can be easily stored, managed and conveyed where needed. However, apart from these advantages, there is the likelihood that information may at times be stolen.  Most of the time, there is little that we can do about information theft. This is especially true if the information is stolen from a company whose services as database administrators have been enlisted.



Today, there is a high frequency of data theft and hackers are getting more sophisticated every day. They are able to access such information as addresses, social security numbers and medical information amongst other types of personal or company information that is sensitive.

This article will look into the number hacks that have been most salient in the past 10 months, from the scary, to the salacious and even those that were not too bad but portray the vulnerability of individuals’ /clients’ personal information, even at the level of corporations. Here is a list of companies that got the bitter end of information hacking.

Ashley Madison



This was the most publicized hack in 2015. This was due to the nature of the site. The site is used to check if your significant other is cheating on you. This brings out the irony of the hacking of this site. The stolen information was then published by the hackers. As such, anyone could visit the site to find out if somebody they knew was using the Ashley Madison site.




After a breach of information, this company was forced to close down in 2015. The hacking resulted in loss of information belonging to 78.8 million people, making it the most significant hack in 2015. Apart from Anthem’s clients, there were an additional 18.8 million members of Blue Shield and Blue Cross health plans whose information were part of the Anthem DBA services. These clients were also victims of the hack. The hacked information included names, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, home addresses and e-mail addresses. Only credit card information was not compromised.

Fiat Chrysler



In June 2015, there were two hackers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, who hacked the Fiat Chrysler computer system. This was an individual hack meant to be a case study to prove hackers can not only take control of traditional computers, but also vehicles. They were able to control a vehicle’s brakes, steering and transmission.

Fiat Chrysler suffered as a result:  more than 1.4 million vehicles had to be recalled to the factory to install a software update. The company was aware of the vulnerability and inadequacy that came with its Uconnect entertainment system 18 months prior to Valasek’s and Miller’s demonstration.

Internal Revenue Service



In August 2015, the Internal Revenue Service was hacked. The agency first reported the cyber-attack may have affected 114,000 people. However, it was later announced the breach had affected 344,000 citizens.

The IRS was unable to confirm if information had actually been stolen. The hackers acquired transcripts that allowed users of the system to look into the tax transactions and returns for any year from their individual accounts. The users had to give answers to identify themselves to the system. The hackers were able to access those answers and, form there, individual accounts. This means that the information of the 344,000 citizens was visible to the hackers — information that could endanger people’s financial security and privacy.

U.S. Office for Personnel Management (OPM)



In June 2015, there was an information breach to this organization that manages the information of government agencies and U.S. federal government. The initial tally for number of personnel information affected by the breach was four million. However, after the FBI investigated, it estimated the number of affected personnel to be around 18 million.

Initially, there had been a breach of personnel information in March 2014. It took the OPM at least a year to discover the breach. This raised numerous questions on the security of information that agencies such as OPM use and if the database administration tactics used were effective or needed to be corrected immediately.

According to reports by OPM, the data that was stolen included addresses, Social Security numbers, addresses, employees’ dates of birth and much more. Additionally, there were reports the information breached may have included background information and security clearance information: Non-employees who may have undergone background checks but were yet to be employed by government agencies or the federal government.

UCLA Health



In July of last year, more than 4.5 million users of UCLA health had their information compromised. The information included Medicare numbers, Social Security numbers, physical addresses and health plan identity numbers. Interestingly, the breach in the system initially occurred in September 2014 but it took a month for the database administrators to notice this problem. It was in May 2015 that the FBI came in and realized the hackers had access to the servers housing sensitive data. The system was successfully breached but the DBA specialists who work for UCLA health are not sure whether any data was stolen.

Carphone Warehouse and Vtech include other companies that have been attacked by hackers and lost information last year. Such hacks can easily happen when database administrators do not ensure the safety of a company’s system and server.


David Wicks is an IT professional and writer. He always looks to share his knowledge by expressing it through articles. He is an Internet lover and you can learn more on