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2021 Data Breaches in Review: A Glimpse at the Most Damaging Cybercrimes of the Year

2021 was another record-breaking year for cyber attacks, with reports of massive breaches and huge ransomware demands dominating headlines. It’s a trend that does not seem to be slowing any time soon, either. Currently, there are thousands of vendors in the market, with over $130 billion spent annually on defense and yet, the number of breaches continues to rise. 

Arctic Wolf's 2021 Data Breaches in Review counts down the most noteworthy, high-profile, and damaging data cybercrimes of the year. You’ll learn about: 

  • The hack that made "ransomware" a household word 
  • The shocking breach that exposed the information of 214 million users 
  • How Russian cybercriminals gained access to 18,000 private and government-affiliated U.S. networks 
  • The email spoof attack that cost a small town in New Hampshire over $2 million in taxpayer dollars 

Here is a sneak peek at a few of the cyber attacks that made headlines this past year: 

#20: MediaMarkt 

 In November, the Hive group struck with a ransomware attack that encrypted the servers of MediaMarkt—Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailer. The attack shut down their IT systems and kept many stores in both the Netherlands and Germany from being able to accept credit and debit card payments.  

Even worse? Hive’s attack method also involves deleting backups to prevent the target from being able to recover their data without paying the ransom. 

#19: Howard University 

Over Labor Day weekend Howard University in Washington, D.C.—the nation's oldest Historically Black University—fell victim to a ransomware attack.  

The disruption shut down both in-person and online classes for several days while Howard struggled to restore access to its Wi-Fi network. There were rumors that the breach originated with the school's email system. However, the perpetrator of the attack, the terms of the ransom, and whether Howard University paid the ransom remain unclear. 

A high-tech background with a series of small blue lights across the landscape.

#18: Twitch 

Amazon’s massively popular Twitch streaming platform suffered a major data breach in early October, as a threat actor took advantage of information exposed during a server configuration change. The 125GB of stolen data included elements of Twitch's source code and, more embarrassingly, data on the incomes of the streaming platform's leading game streamers. 

Reports emerged that the company had ignored several past security threats in the interest of profits while online debates erupted about perceived disparities in the platform's payment structure.  

The Countdown Continues... 

But we're only getting started. Check out Data Breaches in Review 2021 to continue the countdown from #17 all the way down to the biggest cyber attack of the year. And for more, view our webinar as Louis Evans, Product Marketing Manager at Arctic Wolf, and Matt Trushinski, Director of Product Marketing at Arctic Wolf, cover the full list, along with a recap on how Arctic Wolf has helped customers quickly detect and remediate similar attacks on their own organizations