NY loses over $1 billion due to 2013 data breaches, state attorney general says

Remember the huge data breach that afflicted Target and its customers last year? Well, that, along with other such incidents, cost the state of New York dearly.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a report indicating that as a result of data breaches, 7.3 million records were exposed last year alone. The attacks cost New Yorkers roughly $1.37 billion in damages. On top of that, between 2006 and 2013,  22.8 million personal records were compromised.

According to the report, unauthorized hacks were the leading cause of these data breaches and accounted for about 40 percent of the incidents. Schneiderman’s report says the “massive number of affected New Yorkers in 2013 was largely driven by two retail mega-breaches at Target and Living Social.”

“As we increasingly share our personal information with stores, restaurants, health care providers, and other organizations, we should be able to enjoy the benefits of new technology without putting ourselves at risk,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Moving forward, I will advocate for collaboration between industry and security experts to ensure that organizations across the state and country have access to the tools needed to secure our data, so we can best address this complex and growing problem.”

Stolen credit card numbers can bring in up to $45 each on the black market, while Social Security numbers and other types of personal data can command even more cash.

In his report, Schneiderman urges both ordinary people and the business community to step up their efforts to protect themselves. Tips he offers include encryption, strong passwords, and much more.

It will be interesting to see how 2014 will shake out on the hacking and related damages fronts. We can only hope that businesses and consumers are taking as many steps as possible to safeguard their data.

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