Data breaches have become a major concern for almost all organizations in recent years. Between data leaks, cyberattacks and inadvertent internal mishaps, the threat of losing sensitive information is very real. However, according to one identity theft solutions provider, the large majority of data breaches are avoidable.
A recent report from IdentityHawk revealed that at least 534 million records have been breached since 2005. This includes everything from medical records to financial information to simple email addresses and passwords.
Many of these breaches are at the hands of cybercriminals and hackers. Some extend from businesses failing to take the proper steps to protect information. Others are purely accidentally, resulting from a misplaced smartphone or leaving a computer unlocked when away from one's desk.
However, regardless of the cause, IdentityHawk stated that 97 percent of data breaches are completely avoidable.
According to the report, there are a number of steps both businesses and consumers can take to lock down their data protection practices. On the enterprise side, companies can implement data security policies that address common vulnerabilities. Additionally, businesses can encrypt all sensitive data stored on their networks, making it significantly more difficult to access without the proper credentials.
For consumers, using firewalls and antivirus software can decrease the chances of data loss significantly. Also, ensuring sensitive information is kept out of unnecessary places and shredding documents can ensure no wandering eyes catch a glimpse of data that shouldn't be exposed.
However, protecting against data breaches is easier said than done. And often, even businesses and consumers that do take the necessary steps end up experiencing data breaches. As a recent Ponemon Institute study revealed, 90 percent of surveyed organizations admitted to suffering at least one data breach in the last 12 months.