Cyber Security Awareness Month

Everything new you need to know about identity theft

Well, we made it two weeks without hearing about another major data breach.

We learned in early September about the data theft at Home Depot, and found out a couple weeks later that it involved the account information of 56 million cardholders. The New York Times called it “the largest known breach of a retail company’s computer network.”

Key word: known.

It wasn’t a new breach — it happened in April. We just get information in dribs and drabs, and it always seems to make things worse than we thought. And now we’ve got more bad news.

JPMorgan Chase discovered a data breach in July, and initially thought only 1 million accounts had been accessed. But now it looks like 76 million households and seven million small businesses were affected. Chase thinks only names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails were taken — but we’ve heard that before.

It’s not all bad, though. Just most of it. Here’s a bunch of research about identity theft that came out just last week…

Consumers aren’t wising up to identity theft

Despite rampant ripoffs, we continue to leave ourselves wide open to both high-tech and low-tech identity theft. So says the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which surveyed more than 2,200 adults about the topic and found…

  • More than half of Americans under age 50 have left a valuable personal item usable for identity theft (purse/wallet, paystub, laptop) in their car in the last week. Older Americans are smarter — just 24 percent have.
  • Nearly half of Americans use the same password on multiple accounts, which means hackers hit the jackpot when they access just one.
  • More than half don’t check their free annual credit reports.
  • Only 7 percent use a password management program like LastPass, which keeps unique passwords for all your accounts that you don’t have to remember.

This is all in spite of the fact than 41 percent of Americans have been notified of a personal data breach in the past year. When will we learn? But it’s not just us.

Businesses aren’t any smarter

Security company SafeNet polled more than 1,000 people for something called the Data Security Confidence Index. It found…

  • 74 percent of IT managers think their company firewall is effective at keeping hackers out.
  • But 44 percent admit their firewall has been breached or that they don’t know if it has been.
  • 60 percent aren’t confident that data is secure in case there is a breach.
  • And the funniest bit: A quarter of IT managers say they wouldn’t trust their own company’s security enough to be a customer.

The study is trying to get at the need to not just keep hackers out, but to encrypt data in case they get in — something SafeNet obviously has some profitable expertise in.

We’re more scared of identity theft than ISIS

Tech maker Honeywell finds we worry more about the security of our debit and credit cards (93 percent) than our health (83 percent), retirement (81 percent), or losing our cell phones (63 percent).

Separately, The University of Phoenix polled more than 2,000 adults about what security topics in the news they worry about most. Topping the list were identity theft (70 percent) and personal cybersecurity (61 percent). Ranking lower…

  • Terrorism — 55 percent
  • National security — 54 percent
  • Personal safety — 49 percent
  • Neighborhood crime — 47 percent
  • Property theft — 44 percent
  • Natural disasters — 44 percent
  • Workplace violence — 18 percent

Just 12 percent of Americans feel more secure than they did five years ago, while 41 percent feel just as secure now as then. Sixty percent are more concerned about identity theft than five years ago.

The school, promoting its criminal justice programs, notes that 27 percent of adults are interested in a security-related job. That brings us to the last, most positive study…

Millennials want cybersecurity jobs

All these data breaches are opening up a new career path — or at least making people aware of one.

The number of millennials who were told about or recommended cybersecurity work in the past year is up to 41 percent, according to a survey of 1,000 adults from another security company, Raytheon. That’s up big time from 18 percent a year ago, and 40 percent said they are more interested in Internet security jobs than they were last year.

That’s good, because demand for cybersecurity pros is growing three times faster than for IT jobs, Raytheon says. Maybe things will look a little brighter next Cyber Security Awareness Month.

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