In less than three years, it will be the year 2020. By then, we probably won’t have flying cars, or shoes that come standard with self-tying laces, or for that matter, a digital assistant that can actually understand our commands (No, Alexa, I don’t want you to order me 3,000 rolls of paper towels). But, more than likely, we won’t be able to buy a gallon of milk without identity thieves attempting to steal our personal data. In fact, this seems to already be a reality.
2017: The Year of the Breach
Barely a week into 2017, a major data breach was announced by E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA). Although they weren’t sure of the exact numbers at the time, a third-party report revealed over 1.5 million records were compromised later that month. These records contained a wealth of information on ESEA users including registration dates, usernames, real names, birth dates, phone numbers, and more.
Since then, it’s been a roller coaster of a ride for Americans, with the most frightening drop occurring over the summer when Equifax experienced a massive leak. Despite the fact that over 143 million Americans (nearly half the country) had their personal data stolen, Equifax waited months to inform the public – further compounding the risk over 80% of working Americans now face.
Sadly, the data breaches haven’t stopped there. Most recently came the announcement on September 28 that Whole Foods Market also experienced a breach at an unknown number of taprooms and table-service restaurants located within some stores. Whole Foods was sure to note that this is a separate POS system than those used at checkouts, but that announcement has done little to ease customer concerns.
This news came the same week that fast food restaurant SONIC reported a similar breach at some of their 3,500 locations. Like Whole Foods, SONIC is presently unclear of how many locations were actually affected by the breach.
Data Breaches at an All-Time High
Unfortunately, an increase in data breaches doesn’t appear to be a trend that’s going to die anytime soon. In fact, a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) found that data breaches hit an all-time record high in 2016 – nearly 1,100 breaches. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly 40% higher than the previous year that experienced a mere 780 reported data breaches.
Even more disturbing, the ITRC also found that by June 30, 2017 (prior to the news of the Equifax hack), there were already 791 data breaches in the United States – a 29% increase from 2016 and already more than all reported breaches in 2015. At this rate, 2017 may experience 37% more data breaches than the previous, record-holding year.
So then, it should come as no surprise that Americans now rank identity theft as the number one threat to their health, prosperity, and safety.
Employers are Protecting Their Employees
While many of the trends involving identity theft can paint a pretty bleak picture, there are a number of positives to report. The most significant of which is that companies are beginning to take notice and have started taking steps to help protect their employees. The most effective means of doing so, providing their employees with a comprehensive identity monitoring solution, is already on the rise.
Although only 35% of employers are presently offering this benefit to their employees, that number is looking to rise to nearly 70 percent by 2018. And that’s good news for everyone.
For more information on how data breaches are impacting the workplace, download our free eBook below - By The Numbers.