5 Biggest Data Breaches of all Time from Email Phishing

Data breaches have become increasingly common for businesses worldwide, especially in the United States.

A recent discovery called Collection Number One highlights the severity of the issue, marking one of the largest data breaches in history with over one billion email and password combinations exposed.

Phishing attacks, particularly notable in Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, are a major concern.

The report reveals that 98% of social incidents and 93% of breaches involve phishing and pretexting, with email being the primary vector in 96% of cases.

Many significant data breaches stem from phishing attacks rather than direct hacks or insider threats.

Phishing breaches involve malicious social engineering tactics aimed at obtaining sensitive information from unsuspecting users.

Common methods include phishing email scams and fraudulent websites.

These scams often impersonate legitimate entities or individuals known to recipients, luring them into downloading malicious software or accessing fraudulent websites designed to appear authentic.

Here are some notable examples of major data breaches resulting from phishing attacks:

John Podesta’s Email

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, fell victim to a phishing attack.

Impersonating Google, hackers sent an email prompting Podesta to change his password, leading him to a malicious website.

This breach resulted in the release of thousands of Podesta’s emails.

The U.S. Power Grid

State-sponsored Russian hackers targeted smaller companies connected to the U.S. power grid infrastructure, using them as intermediaries to infiltrate larger organizations.

Although no physical damage occurred, the incident underscored vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure.

JPMorgan Chase

In 2014, hackers compromised contact information for millions of households and businesses associated with JPMorgan Chase, utilizing phishing tactics and exploiting vulnerabilities in OpenSSL.

Sony Pictures

In retaliation for the movie “The Interview,” North Korean hackers launched a phishing attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

The attack resulted in significant financial losses and operational disruptions for the company.


Between June and October 2018, BenefitMall experienced a phishing attack compromising employee email login credentials.

The attack exposed sensitive consumer information, posing risks to thousands of businesses and employees.

Additionally, Facebook and Google were targeted by a sophisticated phishing and wire fraud scheme, resulting in substantial financial losses.

Evaldas Rimasauskas, a Lithuanian hacker, posed as a reputable electronics manufacturer to deceive the companies into transferring funds.

These examples illustrate the pervasive threat of phishing attacks and the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard against them.

Hans Desjarlais
Hans Desjarlais

Hans Desjarlais is a seasoned tech entrepreneur with over a decade of industry experience. Faced with low open rates in his previous lifestyle software business, he dived into the complexities of email deliverability, performed rigorous testing and learned to achieve remarkable results. Now, he specializes in helping companies fix their email deliverability, avoid the spam folder and boost their email ROI.

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