| Individuals July 19, 2017
July 19, 2017
Only halfway through 2017 and there are over 1.7 billion total accounts or records impacted by a data breach, according to Lookout Breach Report data.
We're taking a look back at the first half of the year, assessing the trends to the everyday effect of data breaches.
Around 20% of the U.S. population contracts the flu every year, according to WebMD. Considering the last U.S. census in 2015, that's around 64.6 million Americans who get the flu every year. The World Health Organization states that around 5 million people globally contract a severe flu every year.
Compared to 1.7 billion people impacted by data breaches, it seems that cyber criminals are more productive than actual viruses.
Financial info and "personally identifiable information" top the list of stolen data types
So far in 2017, criminals stole email addresses (in 39% of breaches), financial information (in 31% of breaches), phone numbers (in 26% of breaches), Social Security Numbers (in 24% of breaches), and dates of birth (in 22% of breaches) most often. Passwords (in 19% of breaches) closely followed.
This isn't throwaway data. Attackers are often after this kind of information to make money or to help further other campaigns. For example, if an attacker has your social security number, email, date of birth, and credit card number, she can easily steal your identity or sell that information to someone else.
Some attackers also use this kind of information to impersonate people for "phishing" campaigns. It's much easier to trick someone into giving over sensitive information when they think they're giving it to someone they know and trust. Attackers may use your identity to help make their existing campaigns more successful.
Retail, healthcare, technology, education, and entertainment were the top-breached industries in the first half of the year, but only by the frequency of breaches.
When considering the industries that had the breaches with the largest impact (the number of accounts or records impacted), the list looks a little different:
Why these industries? Technology companies are a wealth of usernames and passwords. Government, education, and transportation all house large quantities of social security numbers, dates of birth, and other identifying factors. People pay for entertainment, which means criminals may be able to more easily find and steal financial data or more usernames and passwords.
There have been a total of 89 reported breaches in 2017, with the majority of these breaches occurring in the month of April. This may be related to tax season.
As mentioned, financial data, social security numbers, and dates of birth all rank in the top five types of stolen data. Tax refund fraud is a serious problem in the U.S. In March 2016, the IRS released a report on called the "Interim Results of the 2016 Filing Season." It stated, "The IRS continues to expand its efforts to detect tax refund fraud. As of March 5, 2016, the IRS reports that it identified 42,148 tax returns with $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds ..."
Data stolen in a breach would enable the criminals to more easily commit this kind of fraud.
Data breaches are a common occurrence, but there are steps anyone can take to keep their data and identities more secure.
First, stay vigilant about the breaches happening every day. Though most companies do alert their customers when there is a data breach, they may not do so in a timely manner (and sometimes the press beats them to it). Staying up to date on data breach headlines may allow you to preemptively change passwords, alert your banks as to potential fraudulent activity, or contact the company for more information about what you should do next.
Second, if you're already the victim of a data breach, sign up for data and credit monitoring services. These services can alert you if your information is spotted on a black market or suspiciously used.
Lookout offers both timely information about breaches as well as data and credit monitoring through Lookout Identity Theft Protection. You get 24/7 access to identity restoration experts and a $1M insurance policy to help recover your identity. Click here to learn more about Lookout Premium Plus.
Third, regularly check your bank statements. This is a generally good practice, but can help you spot potential issues early.
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