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New AARP Report Highlights Primary Targets and Causes of Security Breaches

89.8 Million Americans Potentially Exposed to Identity Theft from January 2005 through May 2006

A new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) states that from January of 2005 through May of 2006, 89.8 million Americans were potentially exposed to identity theft as a result of security breaches involving sensitive personal information. As security breaches at high profile institutions have made the public aware of the seriousness of this problem and more concerned about the safety of their personal information, PPI has analyzed the kinds of institutions most often experienced by security breaches and also the most common ways used to gain sensitive personal information.

The report, "Into the Breach: Security Breaches and Identity Theft," closely examined 244 publicly disclosed security breaches that took place from January 1, 2005 through May 26, 2006. It found that educational institutions were more than twice as likely to report a breach as healthcare organizations, financial services companies, corporations, and government agencies.

The report found that 40 percent of the publicly disclosed security breach incidents were caused by hackers or insider access specifically targeting sensitive personal information. Breaches caused by hackers or insider access put the personal information of 50 million individuals (making up 56 percent of all breach victims) at risk of identity theft.

"Security breaches have become all too common in our daily lives," said Dalmer Hoskins, AARP Managing Director of Public Policy. "And while safeguards are constantly being improved to protect personal information, it is also incumbent upon all institutions that experience a security breach to immediately alert those individuals in danger of identity theft so that they can take measures to further reduce that risk."

While companies across the country look for ways to protect private information from outside hackers, the report shows that much of the threat comes from within the walls of the institutions themselves. The report notes that of all the ways used to improperly gain or display personal information, 30% are the result of breaches from the inside.

Reporters interested in reviewing the full report can visit: http://www.aarp.org/research/legal/legalrights/dd142_security_breach.html.

As internet security continues to present challenges to an array of institutions and organizations, AARP has taken steps to better inform the general public about how they can protect themselves online. At www.aarp.org/netsafe, AARP has collected some of the best thinking on how the public can keep themselves and their personal information safe online.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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