ITRC report sees similarities in data breaches

The number of U.S. security breaches  in financial services, business, education, government and healthcare is on the rise, and there some common threads, the Identity Theft Resource Center said in a report commissioned by IDT911 released April 12.

The new year has seen the trend continue, with more than six million records compromised so far. That brings the decade’s total to more than 850 million exposed records.

There are some common characteristics in these breaches. Social Security numbers (SSN) are compromised in roughly one out of every three cases, while 13 percent see exposed credit and debt card information.

The healthcare field was responsible for 16.6 percent of the 245.2 million records which exposed people’s SSNs, a problem which becomes especially acute during tax season.

The problem is growing. The IRS reported a 400 percent increase in tax-related phishing and malware incidents in January and February. SSNs are the key piece in successful tax frauds.

“Tax refund fraud continues to rise creating almost unbearable issues for victims nationwide,” ITRC CEO Eva Velasquez said. “It is our belief that the 575 healthcare breaches since 2010 – that have exposed more than 142 million social security numbers – are contributing to this increase.”

ITRC also released sector-specific data.

The business sector is responsible for 13.6 percent of 122.8 million records leaked with credit or debit card fails. Retail, hospitality, transportation, trade and other professional entities account for 35.6 percent of all U.S. breaches and 399.4 million compromised records. More hacking-related incidents (809) occurred in business than any other sectors.

In healthcare, employee error, negligence and insider theft resulted in 371 breaches.

More than 2.4 million records from public or private educational facilities have been disclosed accidentally via e-mail or the internet. Insider theft is very rare in the sector.

When fraud occurs in government, it mostly revolves around exposed SSNs. More than 57 million government and military members’ SSN’s have been exposed. While fewer breaches occurred because of employee error, more records, seven million, were exposed.

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