Almost 110 million Americans have been exposed to data theft in the last 12 months, CNNMoney and Ponemon Institute researchers report.Â UpÂ to 432 million user accounts have been breached, according to the information recorded by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CNNMoney’s overview of the security incidents made public last year.
Looking at a short summary, the most damaging breaches include some of the biggest brands in the US:
- 70 million Target customers lost personal information and 40 million credit and debit cards
- 33 million Adobe user credentials, plus 3.2 million stolen credit and debit cards
- 4.6 million Snapchat user credentials
- 3 million payment cards used to shop at Michaels
- Almost 1.1. million credit and debit cards in theÂ Neiman MarcusÂ breach
- An undisclosed number of AOL’s 120 million registered accounts
- Data from eBay’s 148 million customers
The analysis suggests breaches have become so frequent that users should expect an attack every month. Â “It’s becoming more acute,” said Larry Ponemon, Head of the Ponemon Institute. “If you’re not a data breach victim, you’re not paying attention.”
Regardless of the number of affected users, people need to take all the precautions they can to reduce the risk of falling victim to identity thieves. For instance:
- Regularly change passwords and take precautions when posting to social media accounts.
- Think twice before clicking suspicious links, even from trusted sources.
- Set up two-factor authentication to double the access strength of frequently used accounts such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or Apple. The extra step requires users to confirm their identity by entering a code sent to their mobile device after signing in with their usual credentials.
- Hide digital footprints with new online privacy tools such as anonymous browsers and self-destructive mobile messages.
- Install and update security software installed on desktop and mobile devices to evade malware, phishing and fraud attempts when browsing or sharing personal information on social networks.
What do you think is the best way to protect your data and your online identity from cybercriminals?