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data breach

You may find yourself uttering those very words with all the publicity data breaches have received lately. The alarming statistics are in and they don’t lie. In a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, it was found that 43 percent of companies have had a data breach in the past year.* This is up 10 percent from 2013, when the chain of breaches started gathering momentum in the last quarter, with retail giants like Target, Home Depot and most recently — Kmart —affected.

However, only 15 percent of data breaches are reported. It’s the ones you don’t hear about that are shocking. Did you know, for instance, of the breach at the Korea Credit Bureau in early 2014? The personal data and credit cards of 27 million South Koreans were compromised, leading to countless headaches and hassles.

Michael Bruemmer, VP of Experian’s data breach resolution group, said most (up to 80%) breaches are caused by employee negligence, unlike popular conception that most of the data breaches are originating in Eastern Europe. This is largely attributed to employees getting hoodwinked into supplying login information after a security breach and some other common oversights.

Have you ever been scammed in this way? Gloria Janowitz of New Rochelle, NY, works for a large health care provider with 206 hospitals nationwide, where the personal information of patients who’ve been seen for the last five years was stolen. Gloria had to put in many extra hours working with a special team created for the sole purpose of providing support to all victims.

She said her job morphed from medical billing — where she sat quietly in a back office — to fielding questions from concerned potential victims and assisting them with free credit monitoring plans and providing administrative support — as well as emotional support.

It’s become increasingly clear we need to be vigilant at protecting our personal data as perpetrators do not discriminate in choosing victims. Earlier this year when LexisNexis was hacked, the social security numbers of millions of people were filched, including the SSN of the First Lady – Michelle O’Bama!

Is no one safe anymore? If recent developments are any indication, the answer is ‘No’. The best we can do is increase our awareness of measures we can proactively take to protect our privacy and our company data. Some things you can do personally and can enforce in the workplace are:

  • Monitor credit and banking activity closely
  • Use POS systems for customer transactions only
  • Stay on top of updates to hardware, software and apps
  • Practice & enforce strict encryption & security protocol (especially BYOD staff)
  • Watch out for online vendor purchases
  • Update antivirus and antispyware software on all devices
  • Plug leaky apps
  • Watch out for IoT devices which may not encrypt personal data

Share Your Story for CyberSecurity Awareness Month
Did you know October is CyberSecurity Awareness Month? In honor of this, we encourage you to share your story. Have you worked for a company who has fallen prey to a data breach or have you had your own personal information leeched? We want to hear from you! The more information we share, the more aware we will be in other preventative measures we can take to safe-keep our systems and the personal information of our staff.

Because of the bad PR and threat of financial loss that is often the result of a data breach, many of the attacks are kept secret. As we enter this new era where hackers get more sophisticated, it’s time to vocalize our stories and exchange information that can educate us on new technologies we can implement at our office and/or in our personal lives to protect ourselves and our data.

We want to hear from you! Share it in the Comments section below.

*43% of companies had a data breach in the past year –

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