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Though we are only one month into the new year, attackers have already breached over six million user accounts or personal records, according to data from Breach Report, a new feature in Lookout Personal for iOS and Android that tracks data breaches around the world.
Breaches are a commonly occurring problem into today’s digital world. The Identity Theft Resource Center reports that 36,601,939 records were exposed in 2016 alone. Criminals steal data from companies and individuals to make money selling identities and payment information, hijack accounts to send spam, or perform espionage. Most often, the end goal is financially motivated.
Which companies were breached and early 2017 trends
Attackers compromised nine companies in January including a number of household brand names. These include Sanrio, the owners of the Hello Kitty brand; Supercell, a popular mobile gaming company; and Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, a well-known fast food chain. The attack on Sanrio was the largest breach of the month, with 3.3 million breached accounts.
Healthcare was one of the most-targeted types of data in 2016, according to the Lookout year-end Breach Report blog. This may be because healthcare data is rich with personal information that could be used by identity fraudsters. Payment and voting data filled out the top three most-targeted list.
Notably, healthcare institutions continued to be a target in early 2017. Criminals breached two healthcare companies, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware and PrimeWest Health, in January, resulting in tens of thousands of impacted customers.
Stolen data broken down
Customer names were most often breached, in 66 percent of the companies.
Attackers stole passwords, Social Security Numbers, or dates of birth in 44 percent of the January breaches. Additionally, they stole health data, email addresses, usernames, or home addresses in 33 percent of the cases.
In one case, criminals stole password hint questions, also known as those security prompts that may ask your mother’s maiden name or the street you grew up on to verify your identity.
These pieces of information are valuable to criminals in aggregate as they are critical in identity fraud schemes. That is, if an attacker has a name, email address, home address, phone number, and social security number, they may be able to sell this online to identity thieves or those looking to pose as another person’s identity.
Tips for staying safe
It’s important that individuals stay up to date with the latest breaches in order to know, first and foremost, if their data has been compromised, to know how they can protect themselves.
Breach Report offers tips for every data breach. Here are some of the tips covered this month:
Change passwords immediately. Oftentimes a company will change the password on a compromised account to a temporary one, but individuals should immediately change this password and the password for any services for which they may have used the same login information.
Monitor accounts for fraudulent activity. If an email account has been compromised, victims may notice weird emails being sent from their inbox. In the case of financial fraud, unfamiliar charges may appear on bank or credit statements. Watch for these signs across all your financial accounts.
Beware of phishing emails and texts. When attackers have email addresses and phone numbers, they often use them to trick individuals into giving over more information. This make take the form of a fake email or text message. Individuals should trust their guts.
If offered, set up free credit report monitoring. Many companies will offer victims free credit report monitoring while the attack is investigated. Take advantage.
Stay up to date on the latest data breaches with Breach Report. Upgrade to Premium today to receive timely notifications on breaches that impact industries, companies, or even services you use.
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