For many who work and play online and carry sensitive
information on their computers, security and privacy are often major concerns.
Unfortunately for all of us, we aren’t the only source of potential information
loss when it comes to our own personal information.
Two non-profit groups, the Identity Theft Resource Center
and Attrition.org, say that 2007 was a record setting year for data breaches in
the United States. Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center, told
the AP, “More of them [companies]
are experiencing data breaches, and they're responding to them in a reactive
way, rather than proactively looking at the company's security and seeing where
the holes might be.”
Foley’s group lists over 79 million reported compromised
records in the U.S. from the beginning of 2007 through December 18, 2007. There
were about 20 million reported compromised records in 2006.
Attrition.org’s estimates show that about 162 million
records were compromised through December 21, 2007 in the U.S. and overseas.
Brian Martin from Attrition.org told the AP,
“It's just the nature of business, that moving forward, more companies are
going to have more records, so there will be more records compromised each
year. I imagine the total records compromised will steadily climb."
There is one major similarity between the lists of
compromised records held by the two groups: the massive data breach of TJX who
owns both Marshalls and T.J. Maxx discount stores. This single security breach
accounts for about 46 million of the records on both lists. DailyTech previously reported on this breach that occurred in May of 2007 within
the TJX credit card processing system.
Not all breaches of data security are the result of hackers
actively breaking into an organization’s servers and stealing information.
The personal information of 25 million citizens was lost when
the UK government lost two discs that stored the data.