Data breach incidents are increasing at fast pace and their impact is affecting millions of people. California being one of its victims, the personal information of millions of individuals were exposed in data breaches last year.
Personal information of 2.5 million residents of California were exposed in 131 online data breaches in 2012, as indicated by a recent study done by Attorney General of California. However, more than half of these incidents were easily avoidable.
In a report released by the Attorney General Kamala Harris she revealed that out of 2.5 million California residents affected by data breaches in 2012, 1.4 million would have been fine if the companies had encrypted their data. If the exposed data had been cloaked earlier these incidents would have never been reported under existing state law.
According to some other findings in 2012, average of 22,500 people were affected in each breach. Majority of data leakage incidents were reported in retail industry followed by the insurance and financial sectors. More than 100,000 people were involved in five of the reported data breaches, more than half of breaches involved SSN.
“Data breaches are a serious threat to individuals’ privacy, finances and even personal security. Companies and government agencies must do more to protect people by protecting data.” Harris said in a release.
Harris gave some suggestions for companies and agencies, explaining them that data encryption should always be used to secure the data. She asked them to train their employees and contractors to improve the overall security in an organization. However, some experts in IT security industry declared awareness training to be a waste of money and time.
She further proposed to improve the readability of breach notices, better the access to resources for victims of breaches involving Social Security and driver’s license numbers, and the passage of legislation mandating notifications of breaches involving the exposure of online credentials, such as usernames and passwords.
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Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.
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