Living Social gets hacked, and 50 million people have their name, address, and date of birth stolen. Credit-card information is safe, we’re assured, but it’s of little comfort. Plastic can be replaced. Identity? Not so much.
Yet Living Social is but one of many mega data breaches suffered in the Internet age, a point driven home by World’s Biggest Data Breaches, the latest infographic from David McCandless / Information Is Beautiful. The graphic visualizes all of those vaguely disconcerting security headlines from the past nine years into a tangible timeline of bubbles. So you can quickly spot the biggest breaches—like when Sony lost 77,000,000 user accounts over PSN, or when payment processor Heartland lost 130,000,000 accounts (which subsequently cost them about $140,000,000 in fines and settlements).
Aside from its sheer interest quotient, McCandless and co. added several small touches to keep the information interactive. Hovering over each bubble enlarges it for easy reading, and a click exposes a short story behind the unsettling figures. It’s just a pile of circles, but it’s tactile and explorable, tempting you to dig beneath the surface.
As for what one might learn from the graphic, I cannot say. Video game companies are the worst offenders, while banks seem to have staved off hackers (relatively) respectably. But is anyone going to change their lifestyle—give up Call of Duty or shove money in the mattress because their data may be stolen along with the faceless masses? Of course not.
Security breaches have become the power outage of the information age. They’re inevitable, devastating, and totally worth it for the convenience and pleasure we derive from the services that come under attack. Which is why, if you scroll below, you’ll find my social security number, blood type, mother’s maiden name, and everywhere I’ve ever lived. I’ve also enclosed a few semiclad selfies in case you haven’t checked my Instagram lately.
[Hat tip: Mashable]