Verizon has just released its 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report analyzing data breaches around the world and found that hackers in foreign countries, particularly China, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia are responsible for many of the attacks on businesses large and small resulting in data breaches. Sometimes the hacks are intended to obtain company secrets while other times the goal is personal information about a company’s customers that can be used to make the company’s customers victims of identity theft. More and more hackers are targeting small businesses because they are both a treasure trove of information and because many of these companies have lax security making them easy targets for the hackers. It has been estimated that as much as 80% of the data breaches could be prevented by using two-factor authentication when accessing company computers and their data. This is not a costly security measure to implement, but most companies still do not do this.
As I always tell you, you are only as secure as the company or agency with the weakest security that holds your information. Therefore it is important that you limit, as much as possible, the companies and agencies that hold personal information about you that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft. And although it is certainly convenient to leave your credit card number on file with companies with which you do business online rather than input it each time you do business with a particular company online, you are safer not leaving your credit card number in the computers of companies that may be hacked. You also should inquire of any company that does hold personal information about you as to their security measures to safeguard that information.