George Frey/Getty ImagesWith nearly 300 million records leaked and over $1 billion stolen in 2015, chances are you or someone you know was affected by a cyber attack this year.
From the 37 million affected in the Ashley Madison hack to the unprecedented breach of the US federal agency in charge of background checks, it felt like every month of 2015 brought a major new cyber attack. As a massive listing from IT Governance shows, that was more than a feeling: Hackers hit companies and governments alike month after month, often with shocking results.
Tech Insider looked over the big list of attacks and narrowed down nine of what we'd dub the worst, either due to the sheer number of people affected or, in the case of specific government officials being hacked, the untold implications and fallout after the fact.
Hackers breached the systems of health insurer Anthem, Inc., exposing nearly 80 million personal records.
A pedestrian walks past the corporate headquarters of health insurer Anthem, formerly known as Wellpoint, on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 in Indianapolis.AP Photo/Darron Cummings
In February, Anthem acknowledged it was hacked by still-unknown attackers, who accessed 80 million records from people using health plans like Amerigroup and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Even the company's CEO was affected by the data breach, which exposed birthdays, addresses, social security numbers, and emails. The company said there was "no evidence" that credit card or medical information was exposed.
The major breach may have been the work of Chinese hackers, since the way in which it was pulled off included the "finger prints" of a nation state, according to Bloomberg.
Perhaps 2015's most high-profile hack was on Ashley Madison, the adultery website that promised its members discrete affairs.
A group called Impact Team stole the site's user database in July and attempted to blackmail its parent company Avid Life Media into taking down the site. After 30 days the site still remained online, and the hackers released everything, which included personal info such as emails and physical addresses for 37 million users.
The group followed up with the release of a larger dump of corporate emails from Avid Life, including those of CEO Noel Biderman. He resigned a short time later.
Though being among the data dump didn't necessarily mean a person was actually one of the site's users — there was no email verification so even Barack Obama's White House email was in there — it did lead to embarrassment and public shaming of some politicians and others.
Some, like Pastor John Gibson, committed suicide just six days after being found in the database.
Despite the breach, the company claims it has added millions more to its membership base, though it still faces a number of class-action lawsuits from customers whose identities were exposed.
An unknown group infiltrated hundreds of banks in multiple countries, swiping somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
A cash machine is unable to dispense money on the Greek island of Santorini, Greece, July 1, 2015.REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
The greatest bank robbery of 2015 was completely digital.
Starting in late 2013, an unknown group of cybercriminals infiltrated a number of financial firms after phishing their targets with infected email attachments.
By the time the attack was uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2015, at least 100 banks in 30 countries, including Russia, the US, Germany, China, and Ukraine, were affected. In many cases, the criminals used their computer exploits to dispense cash from ATMs or transfer cash digitally to accounts they controlled.
The $1 billion haul was unprecedented in its scope, which Kaspersky reported as under investigation but still ongoing.
Hackers gained access to unclassified White House systems in 2014, but the nature of the hack got way worse as new details emerged this year.
A breach of the White House's unclassified network in October 2014 caused "temporary disruption to some services," but it was downplayed at the time.
Months later it was revealed to be the work of Russian hackers, which accessed the President's schedule and emails that revealed personnel moves and policy debates, among other unclassified but still-sensitive communications.
“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” one senior American official briefed on the investigation told The New York Times. The intrusion was believed to be linked to the Russian government.
Those same attackers are also believed to have gained access to the State Department's email systems, according to CNN.
About 15 million T-Mobile customers had their information stolen after the credit-checking company Experian was breached.
T-Mobile CEO John LegerefanaticTRX/Wikipedia
Roughly 15 million people who applied in the past three years for wireless service from T-Mobile found themselves in a data breach that didn't even involve T-Mobile.
Hackers instead got into the database of Experian, the credit reporting agency which checks on potential T-Mobile customers. The hack exposed names, addresses, birth dates, and social security numbers.
It also spotlighted the dangers of one company relying on another for safeguarding user data. "Obviously I am incredibly angry about this data breach and we will institute a thorough review of our relationship with Experian," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in an open letter.
CIA Director John Brennan had his personal email hacked, which had sensitive personal documents in it.
A hacker claiming to be an American high school student said he "socially engineered" his way into the CIA Director's AOL email account, which had sensitive attachments within.
The hacker posted John Brennan's purported contact list and call logs. But the biggest leak was the 47-page SF-86 security questionnaire for his security clearance, which had Brennan's and others social security numbers, names, addresses, and other sensitive background information.
The hacker told Wired how he gained access through a series of clever tricks, first posing as a Verizon employee to get info on Brennan, which he then used to unlock the email by lying to AOL customer service.
A breach of children's toy manufacturer VTech resulted in the release of records on 4.8 million parents and more than 6.8 million kids.
The personal data on millions of parents and kids was exposed after a hacker gained access to the server of toy manufacturer VTech in November.
The hacker told Motherboard it had no plans to release the data, though the breach of personal information such as names, addresses, birthdates, and emails could easily be sold on the dark web.
The breach also included thousands of image files, taken with VTech products and uploaded online. The company said no credit cards or social security numbers were taken.
The US government agency in charge of background checks was breached, exposing information on virtually every federal employee since the year 2000.
Archuleta rubs her eyes as she testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the data breach of OPM computers, on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThomson Reuters
In June, it was learned that hackers gained access to the databases of the Office of Personnel Management and grabbed data on about 4.2 million federal workers. But the number affected later rose to more than 22 million who had undergone a federal security screening.
The breach, which some believe to be the work of the Chinese government, enabled access to sensitive SF-86 questionnaires, which military, intelligence officers, and others fill out to get secret and top secret clearances.
They disclosed names, addresses, health information, financial history, social security numbers, family members, and even the opinions of your next-door neighbors. The hack even exposed more than 1 million fingerprints, which biometrics experts believe could result in even more data thefts.
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned amid bipartisan criticism just one month after the breach was made public.