Update on data breach statistics for 2014
August 13, 2014

Data breaches have been some of the most commonly spoken about topics in the news throughout the first six months of 2014, especially as some of the largest retailers, banks, health care organizations and government agencies have fallen victim to massive incidents in a short period of time. Beginning with Target and more recently striking a few hospitals and medical organizations in North America and abroad, cybercriminals appear to be winning the battle against the average IT security professional. 

In many ways, the increasing prevalence and subsequent identity theft damages associated with security incidents is counterintuitive, as the solutions and support that are now available to all types of technology users are often plenty to stave off an attack. However, decision-makers remain relatively lethargic in their security policy overhauls, leading to poor performances in identity and access management that yield higher volumes of fraudulent activity. 

Breach statistics in focus
The Identity Theft Resource Center keeps a running tally of all data breaches that have struck the United States and keeps the form updated throughout the year, while the figures clearly indicate that the cybercrime battle is being lost by victimized consumers and businesses. Compared to last year, the private and public sectors in America are on pace to have a much more damaging and concerning experience with data breach incidents in 2014. 

According to the organization, the banking and financial service sector has been victimized by roughly 13 breaches, accounting for just under 100,000 exposed records. Although all eyes have appeared to be on banks, especially with certain surveys finding that the average consumer is looking to their financial service provider for protection against all types of fraud, the industry has performed relatively well thus far. 

On the other hand, the ITRC has recorded 128 breaches in the business sector, many of which involved retailers and restaurants being breached, which accounts for 33.4 percent of the total frequency of incidents in the nation. Additionally, the business industry has been responsible for more than 6.3 million exposed records, or roughly 58 percent of all files compromised by these incidents. 

The real area for improvement appears to be health care, which has been in the news with some frequency of late because of so many breaches. There have already been 175 incidents in this industry, making it the poorest performer in the United States, as the ITRC stated that medical organizations account for more than 45 percent of the total number of incidents. 

All in all, the organization has tracked 383 breaches through the first six months of 2014, as well as more than 10.9 million exposed sensitive records. 

What can be done?
The health care and retail sectors appear to be the most responsible in terms of data breach frequency, subsequent identity theft and other negative aspects of cybercrime. By simply becoming a bit more proactive and comprehensive in security deployments, such as making the switch to advanced multi-factor authentication tools, the tables can be turned in the war on cybercrime.