Data Breaches a Record High in 2015

By: Robert Siciliano | May 17, 2016 (Edited July 7, 2017)

How many data breaches do you think occurred last year? Maybe you heard of only a few high profile cases of this kind of event, leading you to think that data breaches of businesses are a rare occurrence. But they are far from rare. They are quite common. What you don't hear about doesn't mean it's not there.

A report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) at idtheftcenter.org says that there were 781 known data breaches of businesses in 2015.

  • Business sector: about 40 percent of the breaches
  • Health/medical sector: 35.5 percent
  • Banking/credit/financial: 9.1 percent
  • Government/military: 8.1 percent
  • Education: 7.4 percent

The overwhelming reason for these data breaches is that the hacker seeks financial gain. However, says the president and CEO of ITRC, Eva Velasquez, other motives are at play:

  • "Social justice"
  • To humiliate the victim
  • And we also can't rule out revenge.

Since 2005, the ITRC has tracked over 5,800 data breaches. The forecast is that 2016 will not show any slow-down of the ever-increasing rate of cybercrime. And do not be surprised if the ITRC adds new categories of cybercrime.

Keep in mind that this record of data breaches doesn't tell the whole story; many companies that have been attacked fail to reveal this, as their leaders believe that disclosure would damage their reputation.

More Findings for 2015

  • 37.9 percent: hacking incidents
  • 14.9 percent: employee mistakes
  • 13.7 percent: accidental e-mail/Internet exposure
  • 10.6 percent: inside theft
  • 10.5 percent: physical theft
  • 9 percent: subcontractor/third party

Social Security Numbers vs. Credit/Debit Card Numbers

The Social Security number greatly beats out credit and debit card numbers for a thief's favorite kind of number. This is very bad news because fixing the problem of a stolen SSN is way harder than is resolving the issue of stolen card numbers. If your credit card number is ever stolen and used in a fraudulent way, just call the bank and cancel/change the number. But changing a SSN isn't really an option. Otherwise consider identity theft protection and a credit freeze.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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