Find out how to register, vote early, research a candidate and more in AARP's midterm election guide.
by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, July 9, 2010
Q. After reading your Scam Alert on data breaches, I got to wondering: What kinds of organizations do hackers attack most frequently?
A. It’s surprising, but educational institutions—especially large universities—top the list, accounting for 20 percent of all documented data breaches in 2009, according to the new Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec, maker of Norton computer security products.
Universities are prime targets because they store a wide range of personal information about students and staff, and the data is often accessible from multiple computer systems and campuses. That means hackers potentially have many points of access.
Health care institutions are the next most targeted (15 percent of breaches), again with good reason: A typical patient medical record contains all the personal information needed to steal an identity. Government databases are the third most common target, representing 13 percent of breaches last year.
But it turns out that the institutions most frequently targeted are not necessarily the places where hackers score their biggest successes.
Financial institutions accounted for just 10 percent of all breaches last year, but were the source of 60 percent of all identities exposed. Much of that was due to a single attack that netted 130 million account numbers from credit card processor Heartland Payment Systems. Another 35 percent of identities exposed were stolen from government agencies, including more than 70 million Social Security numbers taken from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members can print free coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by Coupons.com.
Members save 25% on purchases of $200+ and get free basic lenses or 25% off lens upgrades.
Members save 10% on their check every day.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at