Data breaches reach record levels in 2014

In 2014 so far, there have been 568 data breaches involving more than 75 million records, of which 56 million occurred at Home Depot stores, according to data released by the Identity Theft Resource Center.

The data breach at Home Depot Inc. was the largest ever in the history of the retail business globally, beating last year’s 40 million at Target Corp. in 2013, and 45.6 million at TJX Companies Inc. in 2007.

Of the 568 breaches, 247 (43.5%) were in the medical & healthcare sector, which posted a total of 7.14 million records taked, or 9.15% of the total.

The business sector accounts for 63 million records breached out of the 75 million so far this year, or 84% of the total.

There were 23 banking/credit/financial breaches involving 172,320 customers’ records, which is only 0.2% of all the records hacked.

There were 62 government/military breaches involving 2.748 million records hacked, or 3.7% of the total.

In education, there were 41 breaches, involving 1.526 million records taken, representing 2% of the total.

Data Breach

The way Home Depot initially handled its massive data breach has damaged its reputation.

Home Depot’s recent data breach has led to a number of fraudulent transactions across the United States, with some customers finding that their bank accounts had been emptied. Apparently, criminals used the stolen card data to buy groceries, prepaid cards and electronic goods.

According to Home Depot, its five-month long data breach went as far back as April 2014. The company warns that any customers using their card in its stores since April 1 may have had their details hacked. There was a data breach spike during the summer season, the retailer added.

Although data breaches can damage a retailer’s reputation, it is crucial that they be as transparent as possible, experts say. Concealing what happens is likely to scare customers away even more and irreparably damage their reputation.

Data security has been a problem at Home Depot for some time. Employees said the company was extremely slow in responding to this year’s breach. In 2012, it hired a computer engineer who had been in prison for tampering with colleagues’ computer systems.