California reports huge jump in data breaches

Annual report says records equivalent to almost half the state's residents were lost in 2013

The number of personal records compromised by data breaches in California surged to 18.5 million in 2013, up more than six times from the year before, according to a report published on Tuesday by the state's Attorney General.

There were 167 breaches reported during the year, up 28 percent from 2012. The massive increase in the number of compromised records came as a result of two major breaches -- the loss of credit card data at Target in December 2013 and the cyber attack on LivingSocial in April 2013.

Those two breaches concerned around 70 million and 50 million records respectively nationwide and they rank among the largest data breaches so far experienced. Collectively, they impacted 7.5 million Californians.

Just over half of all breaches were caused by intrusions into computer networks carrying sensitive data, either by hacking or through malware that stole data. Just over a quarter were due to physical loss or theft of computers, data drives or paper containing unencrypted personal information, 18 percent were attributed to unintentional errors and 4 percent to data misuse.

As for what was lost, Social Security number breaches occurred in just under half of all cases followed by payment card details in 38 percent and medical information in 19 percent.

In the report, Attorney General Kamala Harris calls for increased use of encryption by companies and agencies to safeguard the personal information of consumers.

"Data breaches pose a serious threat to the privacy, finances and personal security of California consumers," Harris said. "I strongly encourage more use of encryption to significantly reduce the risk of data breaches."

And she takes to task retailers, who have been slow adopting new chip-and-PIN payment card technology.

The transition to chip-based payments is expected to accelerate in the remainder of this year and through 2015, in part because of a growing number of data breaches and because retailers will start being liable for fraud conducted on magnetic stripe-based payments from October next year.

Chip-and-PIN payments and those supported by new technologies like Apple Pay rely on a token that substitutes the card number in the retailer's network. The token is of little use if stolen and should make it much more difficult for cyber criminals to steal payment card details from terminals in stores.

Under California law, companies are required to notify the state Attorney General's office of each breach that affects at least 500 California residents. The report was compiled from those notifications.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags State of California

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?