Data Breaches Declined 32% in 2009


In 2009, there were 498 breaches, which is less than the 657 reported in 2008 but more than the 446 in 2007, according to the 2009 Identity Theft Resource Center Breach Report.

Despite the apparent overall reduction in incidents last year, the Jan. 8 study claims it is difficult to determine if the number of breaches is increasing or decreasing.

The report’s main highlights include:

  • Paper breaches accounted for nearly 26 percent of known breaches (an increase of 46 percent over 2008)
  • The business sector’s share of breaches climbed from 21 percent to 41 percent between 2006 to 2009, the worst sector performance by far
  • Malicious attacks surpassed human error for the first time in three years
  • Out of 498 breaches, only six reported that they had either encryption or other strong security features protecting the exposed data

U.S. universities experienced 58 breaches in 2009, with the University of California, Berkeley reporting the greatest number of records being compromised: 160,000. Thirty three hospitals had breaches, the largest of which involved Jackson Memorial Hospital. Approximately 200,000 records from that institution were compromised. K-12 schools experienced 20 breaches last year.

The report notes, however, that in more than 52 percent of the breaches publicly reported, no statement of the number of records exposed was given. Therefore, it is unknown how many total records may have been exposed due to breaches in 2009.

The business sector’s portion increased to 41 percent of all the publicly reported breaches. While there were some small statistical changes in the other sectors, the business sector increased for the fifth year in a row. The financial and medical industries, perhaps due to stringent regulations, maintained the lowest percentage of breaches.

To read the full report, click here.

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