Half of all US citizens hacked over last year

CNNMoney, in collaboration with researchers at the Ponemon Institute, has calculated that 47 percent of Americans have had their account details exposed to hackers over the last twelve months.

The exact number is uncertain because several companies with large user-bases do not publish transparency reports (AOL and eBay – we are looking at you). Nevertheless, based on data tracked by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CNNMoney’s own review of corporate disclosures, a total of 432 million US data beaches have been identified.

The type of information stolen includes name, birthday, bank card details, passwords, security questions, and physical address, so we are taking about information that can do real damage in the hands of criminals.

CNNMoney breaks these beaches into the following rather shocking numbers:

The report suggests the reasons for this are twofold, being a combination of how people are spending ever more time on the internet (and therefore banking, shopping, and paying bills online), and because hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated; capable of performing devastating attacks on companies with military precision.

Unfortunately there is little we as customers can do about big corporate data breaches, although the use of strong passwords, VPN when using public WiFi hotspots, learning to spot fake websites, using good anti-virus software, never opening suspicious email attachments, and never giving out valuable data over an unsecured connection (look for a padlock and https:// in the browser address bar) can at least help prevent hacking attacks targeted at you as an individual.

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

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