25 of the most infamous data breaches

Software vulnerabilities, lost hard drives and CDs, malicious insiders, poor security - the UK's most important data breaches reveal just how many ways data can be put at risk.

It's tempting to believe that important data breaches only happen in the US and the figures tend to bear that out – the US accounts for the overwhelming majority of the really big data breaches that have been made public, some of them absolutely vast. But US laws and regulations force organisations to admit to data breaches involving the customer, something which is not true in all countries.

In the UK, the most important piece of legislation organisations must worry about is the Data Protection Act and the possibility of fines by the information commissioner (ICO). Below we offer what we believe are the ten most significant data breaches to hit the globe, not in all cases because they were particularly large but because of the type of attack or vulnerability involved or the sensitivity of the data compromised.

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