Identity Theft And Data Breaches – How Do They Affect You?
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Once You Supply Your Information – The Security of that Information is in Someone’s Hands

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach is defined according to Wikipedia as "A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure information to an untrusted environment." A data breach commonly occurs when hackers gain unauthorized access to employee, customer, or medical databases. After the hackers gain access to the information, they will often download it and then turn around and post the information on websites in order to make a profit from this criminal activity. The information that hackers obtain can be anything related to you such as name, address, social security number, account numbers, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and dates of death, current age, and place of employment or medical conditions. If you put your personal identifying information on any kind of form whether it is plain paper in an office or online, your identity is subject to a data breach.

How Widespread are Data Breaches?

These days data breaches seem to be on the rise. According to an article on CSOonline titled “The 15 worst data security breaches of the 21st Century”, some of the top companies that experienced data breaches were Heartland Payment Systems in 2008 in which information from approximately 134 million credit cards was breached. In this particular instance, the mastermind and his accomplices were brought to justice but that information was still leaked into the hands of criminals. In another example from the same article, RSA Security�’s servers were hacked and approximately 40 million employee records were stolen. In this particular data breach, the company remained vague in the information that it released concerning the attack.

In addition to the article on CSOOnline, the Identity Theft Resource Center also stays on top of the data breaches that are reported by businesses and has done so since 2005. According to the ITRC, in this start of a brand new year {it is only February }, there have already been an estimated 1, 400,000 records exposed through data breaches. The company involve include Aflac™, University of California Davis Health System™, the City of Joliet, Illinois, the Connecticut Department of Labor, Coca-Cola™, UNICEF�, Neiman - Marcus™, and Loudon County Schools, just to name a few.

Be Prepared for the Worst

Given the fact that businesses seem to be having trouble keeping their servers secure due to lack of software patches, updates, or just due to sheer attacks of new viruses and malware; please be prepared that as you share your personal information as you conduct your daily activities – you just might be the next victim of identity theft.

Resources

2014 Breach List., The Identity Theft Resource Center. 4, February, 2014. Accessed 4, February, 2014

Armerding, T., 15, February, 2012. “The 15 worst data security breaches of the 21st Century.” Accessed 1, February, 2014

Data breach. Wikipedia. 28, December, 2013. Accessed 4, February, 2014


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