Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

7/12/2010
12:14 PM
50%
50%

ITRC: Why So Many Data Breaches Don't See Light Of Day

Transparency and accountability may be masking true extent of problem

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) announced Thursday that it had recorded 341 individual data breaches for the first six months of 2010.

But hundreds more went unreported, said the organization. In addition, for 46% of breaches, the number of records potentially affected weren't disclosed, and for 38%, no cause was disclosed.

Why is that?

According to the ITRC, some states now harbor a protected breach list that is not made public at all, or is only accessible by exercising the Freedom of Information Act. One state, for example, had a list of 200 breaches, but for most, little information was disseminated, at least publicly, such as the number of records affected.

In addition, for medical data breaches, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a "risk of harm" threshold for notifications. Under HHS guidelines, if an organization determines that a data breach hasn't caused "a significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm to individual," then it doesn't have to report the breach, either to the person whose information was breached or to law enforcement agencies.

As a result, "despite a law stating that all medical breaches involving more than 500 people must be listed on the Health and Human Services breach list, ITRC recorded medical breaches that never made the list," according to a statement issued by the group.

The "risk of harm" medical record clause has been contentious since it was first disclosed in August 2009. At that time, the Center for Democracy and Technology challenged the loophole, arguing that "the primary purpose for mandatory breach notification is to provide incentives for healthcare companies to protect data."

In other words, if healthcare companies properly invest in security, they can avoid data breaches, and the attendant cost of related fines. "However, the harm standard institutionalized in HHS's interim final rule cripples this crucial incentive," said the CDT.

In addition, allowing organizations to conduct their own risk assessment, and then determine whether or not to notify people whose records have been affected, may be contributing to an underreporting of the actual extent of data breaches today, and providing an incomplete picture of which organizations adequately safeguard people's personal information.

"Consumers want to know if they are at risk from even a small breach," according to the ITRC. "The details of a breach help determine their risk factors as well as guide them in proactive measures."

The ITRC first began maintaining a detailed list of data breaches, updated weekly, in 2005.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Attackers Infiltrate the Supply Chain & What to Do About It
Shay Nahari, Head of Red-Team Services at CyberArk,  7/16/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-14230
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in the Viral Quiz Maker - OnionBuzz plugin before 1.2.7 for WordPress. One could exploit the id parameter in the set_count ajax nopriv handler due to there being no sanitization prior to use in a SQL query in saveQuestionVote. This allows an unauthenticated/unprivileged user ...
CVE-2019-14231
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in the Viral Quiz Maker - OnionBuzz plugin before 1.2.2 for WordPress. One could exploit the points parameter in the ob_get_results ajax nopriv handler due to there being no sanitization prior to use in a SQL query in getResultByPointsTrivia. This allows an unauthenticated/un...
CVE-2019-14207
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.11. The application could crash when calling the clone function due to an endless loop resulting from confusing relationships between a child and parent object (caused by an append error).
CVE-2019-14208
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.10. The application could be exposed to a NULL pointer dereference and crash when getting a PDF object from a document, or parsing a certain portfolio that contains a null dictionary.
CVE-2019-14209
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-21
An issue was discovered in Foxit PhantomPDF before 8.3.10. The application could be exposed to Heap Corruption due to data desynchrony when adding AcroForm.