(CNET) The biggest recurrent motif among the major data breaches of 2019 wasn’t the black-hooded hacker in a dark room, digging into a screen full of green text. It was a faceless set of executives and security professionals under the fluorescent lights of an office somewhere, frantically dialing their attorneys and drafting public relations apologies after leaving the front doors of their servers unlocked in public.
The words “unsecured database” seemed to run on repeat through security journalism in 2019. Every month, another company was asking its customers to change their passwords and report any damage. Cloud-based storage companies like Amazon Web Services and ElasticSearch repeatedly saw their names surface in stories of negligent companies – in the fields of health care, hospitality, government and elsewhere – which left sensitive customer data unprotected in the open wilds of the internet, to be bought and sold by hackers who barely had to lift a finger to find it.
And it’s not just manic media coverage. The total number of breaches was up 33% over last year, according to research from Risk Based Security, with medical services, retailers and public entities most affected. That’s a whopping 5,183 data breaches for a total of 7.9 billion exposed records.
In November, the research firm called 2019 the “worst year on record” for breaches.
How much does an average data breach cost an organization? According to IBM’s latest numbers, the tab can run up to $3.92 million after investigation expenses, damage control, repairs, lawsuits and fines. That’s up 12% over five years, with no signs of slowing.
What’s harder to quantify is how great a cost was borne by individual consumers worldwide this year – and how great a cost can be expected of all of us in 2020. Passport numbers, medical records, bank account details, social media credentials, Social Security numbers – breaches hit our most sensitive data in 2019, sending millions of people into frenzied lock-down.
Calculating the hours and dollars spent by people trying to recover from the shameful negligence of some of these companies would be nearly impossible. Predicting future costs would be almost unimaginable. Some would say that in the face of this rising tide of breaches, the onus is on each of us to keep a watchful eye on our own data. The truth is, until a suite of industry-shaping federal reforms and regulations slap some accountability into US data brokerages and communications companies while miraculously rolling back government mass-surveillance programs, keeping one’s data trail clean is about as likely to save you from being part of a mega-breach as recycling your coffee cup is to stop climate change.
But while we’re all desperately tuning up our basic internet security practices and shopping for the best identity protection services, it seems fitting then to take a moment to honor the worst of the worst in our 2019 Data Breach Hall of Shame.
Without further ado…
Click here for the full list from CNET.
Posted in: Cybersecurity