Forbes reports on the numbers of data breaches during the first 11 months of 2009. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, government agencies and businesses reported 435 breaches as of November 17, the report states. But that number, which would indicate a 50 percent reduction from last year's statistics, is deceiving, says Forbes. "In fact, the number of personal records that were exposed...has skyrocketed to 220 million records...compared with 35 million in 2008." The report highlights two of this year's major breaches--Heartland Payment Systems and the National Archive and Records Administration.
If anyone is still of the impression that data breach is a fading issue needs to understand this.
The people that are actively seeking to steal and sell sensitive personal information are getting better at it. This is large-scale international crime and the profits are tremendous.
Often times the persons responsible for the collection of these data are not the identity thieves. The lists and files are sold as many times as is feasible to anyone who can pay. Organizations from al Qaeda, to international underground immigration rings have been linked to the use of stolen identifiable information to further their operations.
In the speaking engagements I do I always advocate the use of common sense when it comes to safeguarding your personal information, but also that most all identity theft is the result of large scale data theft and therefore cannot be protected by us as individuals.
If there is any one lesson I hope everyone gets from this is to understand the scope of data theft and identity theft. To understand it is to be able to secure ourselves much as we do for our health, by having a mitigating protection such as we do with healthcare insurance. But keep in mind that identity theft "insurance" per se cannot replace money lost to identity theft, only out of pocket expenses incurred by you the victim in pursuit of clearing up an identity theft episode. Only a restoration service can clear up records and reinstate the victim to pre-theft status.