Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

A Foolish Take: How the Equifax Mess Compares to Other Data Breaches

By Leo Sun - Oct 2, 2017 at 12:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Equifax's data breach could cause the worst damage, but it didn’t expose as many records as prior breaches.

Americans were stunned when Equifax ( EFX 4.89% ), one of the nation's three largest credit reporting firms, disclosed that a data breach had potentially exposed the personal records of 143 million consumers.

Many media outlets called the data breach the worst ever, but that was in reference to the sensitivity of the data (full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses), not the actual number of people affected.

By that measure, the Equifax hack comes in sixth -- behind Yahoo!'s internet business (now owned by Verizon Communications), MySpace, the adult social network FriendFinder, LinkedIn, and eBay.

A chart of the six most disastrous data breaches to date.

Data sources: Company disclosures, industry reports. Chart by author.

These figures remind us that many companies are ill-equipped to deal with data breaches. As a result, research firm Gartner expects worldwide cybersecurity spending to rise from $90 billion this year to $113 billion in 2020.

Symantec, for example, recently reported that its identity theft protection solution LifeLock saw 10 times as many customer enrollments per hour in the week after the incident. Investors should keep an eye out for lucrative investments across the cybersecurity sector.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Equifax Inc. Stock Quote
Equifax Inc.
$291.12 (4.89%) $13.56

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 12/02/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.