The California attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, recently released a study revealing the state’s current cyberthreat landscape.
According to the investigation, 167 data breaches were reported in California last year, jumping 28 percent from 2012. Those breaches exposed the information of more than 18.5 million residents, significantly more than the 2.5 million compromised in 2012.
The retail industry appears to have borne the brunt of the damage last year. Breaches targeting retail companies affected 84 percent of the total records compromised in 2013. The financial services sector came in a distant second, accounting for 20 percent of total breaches.
Theft of payment card and Social Security information also increased this year, resulting in financial losses for victims. While the report did not provide exact numbers on how much California residents have lost or what number have experienced fraud as a result of a breach, it did cite a Javelin Strategy and Research study that estimates more than one-third of breach victims will suffer financial fraud as a result.
In an interview with The New York Times, Harris said that 2014 is shaping up to be even worse for client data than last year, as breaches have already increased 30 percent in the first 10 months.
“We are increasingly adopting technology that is putting our data in systems that are ripe for penetration,”said Harris. “We have not sufficiently inoculated ourselves. The bad guys have figured out where the vulnerabilities are and learned there is much to be profited and gained from exploiting them.”
Organizations looking to protect sensitive personal information stored on their servers can implement cloud storage services to keep privileged data secure and private. Records kept within a cloud environment can be easily encrypted and kept off enterprise networks, increasing security and reducing the risk of hackers discovering sensitive data during a breach of a company system. Cloud services also provide organizations with enhanced business continuity, as records kept in the cloud are safe in case of a disaster or network outage.