Record Year for Data Breaches

Breaking a record is often cause for celebration. But not when that record is the number of data breaches in one year. As recently reported in Fortune Magazine, the number of reported data breaches so far in 2021 has already surpassed the total for all of 2020. Reported breaches this year are on track to break the record set in 2017. Good reason to pop a cork, but not on a bottle of champagne.

Chris Morris’ article at https://fortune.com/2021/10/06/data-breach-2021-2020-total-hacks/ is based on statistics reported by the Identity Theft Research Center (ITRC). It’s a fascinating read, and scary, too. ITRC statistics only include data breaches that are disclosed by the victim. The report points out that data breach disclosures are down, indicating that more breaches are occurring than are reported.

The other scary aspect of the ITRC report is that the successful tactics used by cybercriminals exploit the same old vulnerabilities – failing to install system updates and patches. Outdated systems leave the door open for unscrupulous hackers to grab valuable data, some of which can be used later to commit other crimes, such as wire fraud and ransomware attacks.

Here are six tips to avoid becoming an ITRC statistic:

  • Keep software systems up to date and use a good anti-virus program.
  • Examine the email address and URLs in all correspondence to detect a scammer mimicking a legitimate site or email address.
  • Ignore text messages, emails, or phone calls asking you to update or verify your account information and go to the company’s website to see if something needs your attention.
  • Never open unexpected attachments until verifying the sender’s email address and use virus scan before opening any document.
  • Scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or fund transfers.
  • Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.

We all dream of breaking a record, popping that champagne cork, and showering the cheering crowd with bubbly. Those bubbles will burst if that record is for the highest year of reported data breaches since 2017. As the article in Fortune tells us, we’re there. Data breaches that lead to monetary loss and ransomware attacks reported so far in 2021 have already exceeded those reported in all of 2020.

Don’t want to be an ITRC statistic or a victim of wire fraud and ransomware attacks? It’s hard to be 100% on anything but following the six tips to avoid a breach can help protect your systems from unscrupulous hackers who want to grab your valuable data.