Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Data Breaches Reach Record Levels in 2007

by Doug Pollack

According to a December 30, 2007 AP article written by Mark Jewell, the trend in data breaches continues on the upswing. He reported that:

"The loss or theft of personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels in 2007, and the trend isn't expected to turn around anytime soon as hackers stay a step ahead of security and laptops disappear with sensitive information."

This of course is bad news for consumers who have also experienced meteoric rates of identity theft in 2007. It has been estimated that over 9MM US citizens fell victim to identity theft in 2007. If you're counting, this averages out to one every three seconds. And the growing adoption of new technologies such as wireless internet and devices by businesses and consumers, provides new ways for technically-savvy criminals to circumvent data security measures.

"With wireless data transmission more common, hackers increasingly are expected to target what many experts see as a major vulnerability. Eavesdroppers appear to be learning how to bypass security safeguards faster than ever, said Jay Tumas, the head of Harvard University's network operations, at a recent conference for information security professionals."

Research Groups estimate that between 50MM and 80MM records of personal information were breached during 2007. These breaches were caused both by hackers whose intent is to steal and exploit this personal data, as well as by unintentional human error such as in the loss or misplacement of a laptop computer with sensitive personal data residing on its hard drive.

Predictions by industry groups suggest that breach numbers reported will continue to rise given a growing trend requiring disclosure of breaches and notification of affected individuals by organizations that experience a data breach.

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