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Attacks/Breaches

2008 Could Be Record Year for Breaches

More than 8 million Americans' data has been exposed so far this year, first-quarter study says

If the first quarter was any indication, 2008 could be a record-setting year for security breaches, according to a new study.

In its first-quarter report, the Identity Theft Resource Center said it has already recorded 167 compromises, more than twice as many as the first quarter of 2007.

In fact, the 2008 total represents more than a third of all the breaches reported last year, suggesting that the U.S. is on a record pace.

So far, only 8 million Americans' data has been potentially compromised, compared with 54 million last year. But last year's numbers are skewed by the TJX breach, which exposed more than 45 million records over a period of several years, the ITRC noted.

The increase in breach reports doesn't necessarily mean there have been more breaches this year, ITRC officials said. There has been a steady rise in reporting in recent years due to stiffer regulations and laws governing breach disclosure, they noted.

However, many of the disclosures are flawed, the ITRC said. "What is clear is that those receiving breach notification letters are often being given incorrect directions or not enough information," the report states. The ITRC reached this conclusion after a study of more than 150 breach notification letters.

"This failure to accurately communicate with potentially effected populations is driving people away from on-line banking and e-commerce, and is creating a distrust of any entity that requests personal information, such as Social Security number, dates of birth, medical insurance numbers and financial account numbers, the ITRC said.

A study published earlier this week by Ponemon Institute offered similar results, reflecting users' dissatisfaction with corporate breach disclosure and notification processes. (See Customers Ticked Off Over Breach Notification.)

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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