Millions of Californians lost data last year

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris reports that 2.5 million Californians lost personal information from 131 digital data breaches in 2012.
(Ben Margot / AP)

SACRAMENTO -- Two and one-half million Californians were exposed to potential harm by 131 digital data breaches in 2012, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris reported Monday.

More than half those people, who had their private financial, health and other information exposed, would have been protected had companies encrypted their data when they were transmitted out of the original network.


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“Data breaches are a serious threat to individuals’ privacy, finances and even personal security,” Harris said in a statement released by her office. “Companies and government agencies must do more to protect people by protecting data.

The most severe breaches hit the retail industry, with 26%, followed by finance and insurance with 23%. More than half, 56%, involved Social Security numbers, and 55% were the result of intentional hackers by outsiders or by unauthorized insiders.

Details of all the breaches can be found here :

Harris issued her report in compliance with a new state law requiring notifications of all losses involving more than 500 Californians to be made to her office.

Reacting to the losses, Harris issued these recommendations:

-- Companies should encrypt digital personal information when moving it out of a secure network.

-- They should review and upgrade security controls and training.

-- Notices sent to people whose data might have been compromised should be clearly written.

-- Legislators should consider expanding current data breach laws so they cover security failures involving passwords.


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