2014 has been a big year for data breaches. An unprecedented number of corporate breaches have led to the exposure of sensitive consumer data, according to a recent survey from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
Let’s take a closer look. So far this year there have been a reported 636 data breaches, resulting in the exposure of 78,098,439 consumer records that include personally identifiable information. That’s an increase of 26.5 percent over the same time period last year. To put this in perspective, there were 614 breaches in all of 2013, according to ITRC records.
Fortunately, there is some hope that criminals are not ramping up the number of separate events. Part of the reason for an increase in data breaches this year has been attributed to the Backoff malware that infected a projected 1,000 or more retailers’ point-of-sale systems. This malicious software is being credited with many major breaches and a significant number of smaller hacking events, indicating that one hacking attempt was responsible for much of the damage this year.
That’s small consolation to impacted consumers. In an effort to provide more information to the public about what data breaches are, and who they affect, the ITRC recently released a new data breach report package. The report details the methodology behind the calculation of data breaches, as well as in-depth statistics of breaches throughout 2014. The ITRC would like to thank CyberScout for their continued financial support, making it possible to provide this report package to the public. To view the updated report package, you can download the file here.
There is some good news to come from the breaches this year, and that’s an increased awareness on the part of law enforcement, state attorneys general, and even international cybercrime prevention groups. New legislation has been also introduced and passed this year, notably California’s bill that helps to protect consumers after a breach and to ensure compliance from businesses in securing customers’ data. Other states have legislation pending.
If you’d like to help ITRC gather information about consumer knowledge of data breaches, and how it changes your spending plans, please participate in the latest survey. This data helps to show if consumer habits are shifting due to awareness of data breaches. Awareness is coming in many forms, and events like the annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month each October are gaining a lot of traction for consumers and business owners to put identity protection at the forefront.