Data Breaches Up 20% to Date in 2016

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The issue of voter security and potential vote fraud have been swirling as the political campaigning approaches the November 8 election day. Charges of potentially large voting fraud have led to calls for more volunteer poll watchers and raised concerns among many Americans that voting tallies will be manipulated in some way that will invalidate election results.

In the third and final debate between the two major-party presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the election results. Implicit in that denial is his contention that the results might be “rigged.”

Cybersecurity experts at the DarkReading.com disagree:

The actual machines that people will use to vote are not Internet-connected and are therefore protected against a vast number of cyberattacks that people assume the systems are exposed to, the National Association of Secretaries of State said in an open letter to Congress recently.

The experts note that recent attacks on voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona were directed at systems that manage elections, not the voting systems actually used for casting ballots.

That does not mean that there are not ways to compromise electronic voting systems. Dark Reading identified seven ways that voting systems can be attacked. Even though the risks are small, they do exist.

The latest data breach count from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that there have been 783 data breaches recorded this year through October 19, 2016, and that more than 29 million records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. The total number of reported breaches increased by 13 since ITRC’s last report on September 27.

The number of breaches in 2015 totaled 781, just two shy of the record 783 breaches that ITRC tracked in 2014. The 783 data breaches reported so far for 2016 are nearly 20% above the number reported (656) for the same period last year. A total of more than 169 million records were exposed in 2015.

Here’s a rundown of the latest ITRC report:

  • The medical/health care sector leads them all in the number of records compromised to date in 2016. The sector has posted 36.5% (286) of all data breaches to date this year. The number of records exposed in these breaches totaled exceeds 14 million, or about 48% of the total so far in 2016.
  • The government/military sector has suffered 55 data breaches so far this year, representing about 41.6% of the total number of records exposed and 7% of the incidents. More than 12 million records have been compromised in the government/military sector to date in 2016.
  • The business sector accounts for more than 2.5 million exposed records in 338 incidents. That represents 43.2% of the incidents and 8.6% of the exposed records.
  • The number of banking/credit/financial breaches totals 33 for the year to date and involves more than 26,000 records, some 4.2% of the total number of breaches and about 0.1% of the records exposed.
  • The educational sector has seen 71 data breaches in 2016. The sector accounts for 9.1% of all breaches for the year and nearly 500,000 exposed records, about 1.7% of the total so far this year.

Since beginning to track data breaches in 2005, ITRC had counted 6,593 breaches through October 19, 2016, involving more than 880.5 million records.

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