47 percent of American adults were hacked in the last year

A new report shows the extent of cyberattacks launched over the past 12 months. According to data protection research firm Ponemon Institute, 110 million Americans, which is equivalent to 47 percent of adults in the United States, had their personal information compromised by hackers over the time period.

The report, which was tallied in conjunction with CNN Money, also showed that hackers were able to gain access to 432 million accounts. The information exposed during the breaches range from basic details such as names and phone numbers to really sensitive data such as credit card numbers, security questions, and addresses. 

The figure is not exact. It’s an estimate derived from the Identity Theft Resource Center’s data and the information in corporate disclosures. According to CNN Money, an exact number is elusive due to the lack of transparency about security breaches from companies like AOL and eBay. 

The high number of hacking victims is said to be due to two factors: the increasing dependency of Americans on online transactions and the sophistication of a new generation of hackers. “Now attackers are very focused,” Brendan Hannigan, the head of IBM’s security systems division, told CNN Money. “There are teams of them, and they create malware to attack specific organizations.”

Online security became a big concern when the Heartbleed Bug was exposed. The OpenSSL vulnerability left the information of most Internet users vulnerable to hackers. While some websites worked to quickly bandage the security flaw, thousands of websites continued operating with the vulnerability. According to a Gallup survey, while news of the bug inspired widespread concern, it didn’t inspire much action from online users.  

[Image courtesy of scyther5/Shutterstock]

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