1. Target Data Breach (2013):

  • Situation: Target, a major U.S. retailer, suffered a massive data breach where credit and debit card information of over 40 million customers was stolen.
  • Root Cause: Hackers gained access through a third-party HVAC vendor’s network credentials and planted malware on Point-of-Sale (PoS) devices.
  • Response: Target bolstered its cybersecurity measures, upgraded its payment terminals to support chip-and-PIN technology, and worked closely with law enforcement agencies.
  • Lessons Learned: The importance of securing third-party vendor access and the need for real-time security alerts.

2. Sony Pictures Hack (2014):

  • Situation: Sony Pictures experienced a significant cyberattack where corporate emails, employee data, and unreleased films were leaked.
  • Root Cause: Allegedly state-sponsored hackers targeted the company, possibly in response to a forthcoming movie’s content.
  • Response: Sony collaborated with cybersecurity firms and law enforcement, communicated with stakeholders, and undertook reputation management efforts.
  • Lessons Learned: The potential geopolitical implications of business decisions and the importance of robust cybersecurity defense and disaster recovery plans.

3. British Airways Fine for Data Breach (2018):

  • Situation: Personal data of around half a million British Airways customers was compromised in a breach, including names, addresses, and payment details.
  • Root Cause: Vulnerabilities in the British Airways website led to the rerouting of user traffic to a fraudulent site where data was harvested.
  • Response: The airline faced a record fine of £183m under GDPR by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office due to the breach.
  • Lessons Learned: The financial implications of data breaches in the era of strict data protection regulations like GDPR and the need for continuous web security assessments.

4. WannaCry Ransomware Attack (2017):

  • Situation: A global ransomware attack, WannaCry, affected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries, encrypting data and demanding Bitcoin payments.
  • Root Cause: The ransomware exploited a Windows vulnerability, with many affected systems lacking the latest security patches.
  • Response: Emergency patches were released, and a security researcher accidentally found a “kill switch” to stop the ransomware’s spread.
  • Lessons Learned: The importance of regular software updates, patches, and the interconnected risks of a globalized digital ecosystem.

5. SolarWinds Attack (2020):

  • Situation: A sophisticated cyber-espionage attack targeted SolarWinds’ Orion software, impacting multiple U.S. government agencies and businesses.
  • Root Cause: Malicious code was inserted into software updates for the Orion platform, which, when installed, allowed attackers backdoor access to systems.
  • Response: SolarWinds released updated and secured versions of the software. Government and private entities launched investigations and bolstered cybersecurity measures.
  • Lessons Learned: The complexities of supply chain attacks and the importance of verifying the security of software updates.


These case studies illustrate the multifaceted nature of technology risks. They underscore the importance of proactive risk management, the need for continuous vigilance, and the value of swift response measures. By learning from past incidents, organizations can better equip themselves to navigate the evolving technology risk landscape.