The staggering rate of hacks in North America
May 30, 2014

Consumers have been at the losing end of the cybersecurity war in the past few years, and many continue to be otherwise negligent to the risks that abound on the Internet today. Identity theft has been the most prolific crime in the United States for several years now, while regulators have struggled to increase oversight in an effective fashion to reduce the rate of fraud and relevant issues. 

Businesses stand in a unique position to be champions of the security arena, as they are among the most responsible for the protection of consumer data, especially when operating in industries that involve financial and health care information. However, research continues to indicate that the average business is still not doing what needs to be done to improve their protection against attacks and resilience to security events. 

Now, it seems as though the battle against hackers and information exposure has taken a turn for the worst in the United States, and the average American is more at risk of being victimized by a major security incident than ever before. Scams, malware and a variety of other tactics have caused a significant amount of disruption to the economy, as well as the identities of U.S. citizens. 

The glass is not half full
CNN Money recently released the results of a report that it completed with the help of the Identity Theft Resource Center and the Ponemon Institute, which revealed that just under half of the American population was hacked in the past year. This accounts for roughly 110 million individuals who experienced some type of security event, while the majority stemmed from major breaches of data storage environments among some of the largest retailers in the nation. 

According to the news provider, the 110 million figure should certainly be enough to wake Americans up to the threats of the modern era, but the real staggering statistic was the 432 million accounts that were found to have been hacked in that same time frame. Considering the fact that the average Internet user has a multitude of accounts, it makes sense that each individual who experienced an event saw it spread to other channels. 

The source went on to note that the records that were exposed in many of the hacks were in fact sensitive, containing information such as names, debit or credit card numbers, phone numbers, birthdays, security questions, physical addresses and email address. 

CNN Money pointed out that Target's breach made up a significant portion of the total amount of individuals struck by hacking events with 70 million victims, while Snapchat, Michaels Stores, Neiman Marcus and AOL were all at the losing end of events as well. Furthermore, the team of researchers involved in the study noted that the traditional password and credential systems that are commonly used are simply not effective amid the increasing sophistication of attacks. 

Takeaways from this study
Hackers show no signs of relenting in their pursuit of data breaches and theft of personal information, and businesses cannot expect to fight the threats of the future using antiquated and traditional access management protocols. Rather, the most advanced attacks on the Internet today can only be mitigated using the most advanced security controls and identity management solutions available on the market. 

Authentication is one such solution that can be used to rapidly overhaul security performances to be relevant in the modern era, and businesses should consider provisioning and deploying these solutions in a more proactive fashion to avoid the high costs of data breach. These tools can be used across myriad devices, improving user experiences and driving the protection of identities.