Data breaches: This time it's more personal

Data breaches: This time it’s more personal

Data breaches: This time it’s more personal

Summer 2016 was not a good time for data breaches.

First, news broke that the Democratic National Committee was hacked, leading to the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and driving a wedge between Democratic Party members.

Later, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that Russian hackers had illegally accessed its Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) database, leaking confidential medical information for U.S. athletes, including Simone Biles and Serena Williams.

Then earlier this month, passwords, usernames, email addresses and other personal information was published for more than 2.2 million people who created accounts with ClixSense, a site that pays users for completing online surveys and viewing advertisements.

These were not the only breaches of the summer, nor were they the largest. However, each is a clear example of the changing face of data breaches and the rise of identity theft.

According to Gemalto’s Breach Level Index, for the first six months of 2016, identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 64 percent of all data breaches, up from 53 percent in the previous six months. Malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches, accounting for 69 percent of breaches, up from 56 percent in the previous six months.

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What we have been seeing over the past two years is that data breaches have shifted from stolen credit card data and financial information to the theft of something much more intimate—identities. As a result, data breaches are becoming much more personal and the universe of risk exposure for people is widening.

In the case of the DNC and WADA breaches, sensitive data was leaked to publicly smear people. Contrast that with the IRS data breach involving more than 700,000 stolen Social Security numbers that resulted in thousands of false tax returns being filed. As companies, governments and other organizations collect ever-increasing amounts of customer information and as our online digital activities become more diverse and prolific, more data about what we do, who we are and what we like is at risk to be stolen from the companies that store our data.

So, why isn’t anyone paying attention? The truth is that despite today’s daily headlines about data breaches, the problem with cybersecurity is that there’s a lot of apathy regarding the issues.

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