With conflict in Iran, wildfires in Australia and now a disease breaking out around the world so far in 2020, you could be forgiven for not noticing the troubling trends in cybersecurity that have marked the start of the year.
Nonetheless, 2020 is off to a dangerous start in terms of cybersecurity as well. Data breaches have sent both businesses and consumers into a panic, as more than 1 billion records were exposed in January alone.
Cyber criminals hit companies hard in 2019, and the trend shows no signs of stopping. The unfortunate truth is that security breaches take place daily and, most of the time, the incidents are discovered or reported too late. In case you missed the cybersecurity events that marked the start of this year, here’s a look at the most noteworthy data breaches:
Microsoft’s customer support database exposed
The customer support database discovered contained around 250 million entries, including personal information such as email addresses, IP addresses and, in some cases, support ticket details. Although no malicious use of the data was found at the time, long-term effects have had little time to manifest.
Fine dining and credit card fraud
U.S. dining giant Landry’s reported that 63 of its nationwide restaurant brands suffered a point-of-sale malware attack that targeted customers’ credit card data. Although the number of victims has not yet been revealed, it is thought that the malicious code stole payment details from credit and debit cards swiped on Landry’s order entry systems between March 13 and October 17, 2019. Besides credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, verification codes, and cardholder names may have also been compromised. Any customer who dined at one of Landry’s restaurants in 2019 is at risk of credit card fraud.
Healthcare remains a prime target
The first month of the year also saw 33 data breaches reported by HIPAA-covered businesses and their associates. The breaches mostly affected healthcare providers, exposing thousands of patient records including names, addresses or Social Security numbers.
Teachers report identity theft
A more recent and disturbing report comes from the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur from Quebec, which confirmed that the personal information of 360,000 teachers and substitute teachers may have been stolen. The breached database contained Social Insurance Numbers (SIN), last names, first names and dates of birth. Around 400 teachers have already filed complaints claiming that their identity was stolen. The information comes as no surprise, since studies show that around 31% of data breach victims experience identity theft as an after effect.
Data has become a top commodity, and it’s not just businesses that monetize customer data. While nobody can predict or prevent a data breach, and going entirely offline is not really a choice, you can take measures to limit the impact of such incidents. Even if you are not a victim (yet), you should be aware of the risks that follow data breaches – identity-theft related crimes have skyrocketed in recent years.
It might be a good idea to focus on safeguarding your personal information and reducing your online risks this year. Read more on how to protect your digital identity here, or let professionals help you with this by clicking here.