Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you'll have witnessed proof that digitisation has taken over our lives. With there now being more internet-connected devices than humans on earth and even fridges and kettles being connected, it's sadly inevitable that malicious organisations will attempt to access our data. We therefore have to put our faith in businesses and the data centres they utilise to ensure sensitive data remains private.
However, as the following list shows, plenty of businesses have faced attacks this year, with a shocking amount of data falling into the hands of malicious hackers.
No cyber attack grabbed headlines quite like the Ashley Madison hack did this year. The adultery website was targeted by a group calling itself 'Impact Team' and saw its database full of sensitive customer data posted online for the world to see. This included names, emails and personal messages sent by users of the websites which I'm sure resulted in many awkward conversations for partners who were caught red handed by their suspicious partners trawling messaging boards where the data was shared.
The most recent hack on this list hit saw 6.4 million records stolen from toymaker VTech. The records included a database of first names, birthdays, photos and addresses of children across the globe. Unsurprisingly, the business is now under severe investigation as it seems poor password security was one of the reasons the hackers were able to run rampant as easily as they did.
This year's attack on Donald Trump's chain of hotels just goes to prove even Presidential candidates aren't immune to hacks. Malware infiltrated the IT systems at seven of his hotels throughout the US, stealing full credit card details of thousands of consumers in the process. The hotel's security should consider itself well and truly trumped.
Carphone Warehouse admitted back in August it had fallen victim to a cyber attack which saw personal details of 2.4 million customers compromised, alongside the credit card details of 90,000 people. As a major player on the UK high street, it's unsurprising this gained as much press coverage as it did.
The final hack on this list goes to show that having strong cyber security in measures within the business isn't enough. The hacking of T-Mobile's partner, Experian, resulted in personal data being stolen from 15 million customers. On a positive note, the data stolen by hackers didn't contain any bank or credit card details.
So what does this tell us? No matter what businesses we decide to interact with, there is always a chance the system could be hacked - even industry goliaths are not immune. In fact, larger brands are usually more attractive prospects for many hackers.
To keep our data as secure as possible, businesses that hold it on our behalf must take proper precautions. This means they must make arrangements such as operating the physical equipment from a secure data centre where it cannot be compromised by thieves and ensuring personnel management is secure. It must also be made sure that modern cyber-security good practice is followed, protecting against SQL injection attacks, ensuring user passwords are strong and that a cyber-thief cannot marry credit card details with personal information. By following actions such as these, large scale hacks will become increasingly rare.