Since 2005, there have been a staggering 535,267,233 records of data breaches by various means in the United States alone. What is even scarier is that this number may be significantly higher, since many data breaches that have occurred are not reported.
Identity theft is at an all-time high and government agencies and security companies are scrambling to offer protection to this growing threat. Recent data breaches, like that which happened at Sony in 2011, potentially compromising the personal information of 77 million PlayStation Network users, have even made headlines. Incidents like this have introduced the average American to the reality that all our data is at risk.
Even if you live your life as carefully as possible, shred paperwork, change your passwords daily, and avoid giving out sensitive information online, these data breaches can occur at the data holder’s location. Do you really have any control over your online credit card company’s security? Or an online vendor? Once the data is stolen, what happens next? Your data is out there — in the wrong hands.
As consumers, we are left to hope that the companies we trust to keep our data have a high level of encryption and are staying on top of the latest security measures. But this trust is blind and often misleading. Even trusted institutions like colleges, government sites, and healthcare facilities are vulnerable to today’s hackers and online thieves.
Perhaps more alarming is the fact that data breaches do not only occur electronically. In 2012, 27 percent of data breaches in California were considered “physical,” with information taken from documents, media, and hardware. These breaches, however, do not trigger breach notifications, so consumers are not necessarily alerted to the fact that their personal information has been compromised.
So what can you do to protect your data? Unfortunately, if the businesses and companies you trust to protect your data are not fully secure, there is not much you can do. Even if you avoid the Internet altogether, you are not completely safe, as physical breaches still occur at a high rate.
Fortunately, you do not have to keep your fingers crossed while living in a state of paranoia. American consumers can help keep their data a bit safer by doing the following:
- Check your credit report annually.
- Check your bank accounts at least once a month.
- Check your credit card accounts regularly.
- Any accounts you manage online should be checked regularly for breaches.
- Check your social security statements annually to be sure that no one is using your account.
- Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center if you believe that you are the victim of identity theft.
At Forensicon, we specialize in data and security breaches and can help you understand what transpired. If your data has been compromised or your company’s data has been breached–we can help. We have the technology and the experience to assist your company or firm with all digital and electronic analysis. To learn more about how our computer forensic specialists can assist your firm, call us at 1-888-427-5667 or visit us on the web at www.forensicon.com.
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