Data privacy advocate reviews challenging year for online security
By all accounts, 2011 will be remembered as a historically difficult year for the online security community. In an effort to bring perspective to the matter, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has released a report detailing some of the most notable events of the year.
Since 2005, the consumer protection organization has been keeping track of data breaches that compromised records containing "information useful to identity thieves." This data is defined as Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, driver's license numbers and medical histories.
So far this year, PRC has tracked 535 separate breaches affecting 30.4 million sensitive consumer records. The figure is concerning in and of itself, but it also means that 543 million compromised records have now been reported by Americans in the past six years.
"This is a conservative number. We generally learn about breaches that garner media attention. Unfortunately, many do not," noted PRC director Beth Givens.
While advocates continue to fight for increased transparency and stronger data security regulations for organizations tasked with managing sensitive public information, experts suggest it may be time for consumers to take on a larger role in data protection. From basic technology like a password organizer to in-depth analysis of financial statements, there are still plenty of options available for consumers hoping to keep identity thieves at bay.