Privacy data breaches jump 69% in first half of 2008


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The number of publicly reported privacy breaches jumped 69% in the first six months of the year from the same period in 2007, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center.

Businesses accounted for much of the increase, the San Diego group found by surveying media accounts, state disclosures and other sources. They reported 37% of the 2008 breaches, up from 29% in the first half of last year and 21% in the year-earlier period.


Educational organizations and government sources, the next two most common sources of exposed personal information, both reported fewer breaches for a second consecutive year. They reported 21% and 17%, respectively, of the latest data leaks.

The Identity Theft Resource Center didn’t estimate how many records were involved in total, because almost 40% of the public reports didn’t reveal the extent of the compromise.

Just because data is at risk doesn’t mean it will be misused. Laptops or other devices that were lost or stolen accounted for 1 in 5 of the incidents, and they might not have been targeted for the information they held.

Insider theft was blamed in 16% of the cases, loss or theft by a contractor in 14% and hacking in 12%.

-- Joseph Menn