Failure to Encrypt Data Puts Individuals at Risk

By Karen A. Frenkel  |  Updated 07-30-2013 | Posted 07-29-2013 Print

In 2012, for the first time, California companies and government agencies were required by law to submit copies of their data breach notices to the attorney general. The impact of the failure to encrypt sensitive personal information is particularly striking, according to Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. She notes that had encryption had been used, more 1.4 million Californians would not have had their information put at risk. That number represents more than half of the 2.5 million people affected by the 131 breaches covered in the report, California’s 2012 Data Breach Report. California has strong consumer privacy laws. In 2003, it was the first state in the country to require data breach notification. Since then, all but four states have enacted similar laws. Companies and agencies must inform individuals when their personal information has been put at risk by a breach. If notified promptly, victims can close imperiled accounts, put a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit records, and take other steps to protect themselves from a breach’s consequences. California's report illuminates the extent and types of breaches, the number of people affected, and offers recommendations to prevent future compromises.


Breach Notices Often Misunderstood  The average reading level of the breach notices was 14th grade, too high for 43% of Americans, who read at or below the 8th grade level.

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