Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime: data theft

Date: July 20, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center

The sheer scope of the impact is mind-boggling. A recent security breach at a major credit card processor reportedly exposed more than 40 million card-holder names and account numbers. In February, a well-known information-broker revealed that criminals had managed to steal the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of as many as 145,000 individuals by using previously stolen identities to create 50 fake businesses to access the company’s information stores. In another widely-publicised breach, one of the country’s largest information services providers announced that hackers managed to gain access to a database to seize the names, social security and driver’s license numbers, and addresses of more than 300,000 individuals. According to Gartner, 9.4 million US adults were identity theft victims between May 2003 and April 2004. Their financial losses totalled $11.7 billion.

Such data breaches have been announced by some of the country’s well known banks, entertainment companies, telecommunications providers, and universities. And this proves that such breaches can occur at even the most security conscious and diligent companies. The public is learning about security breaches today largely due to California’s Breach Disclosure Law (SB 1386), which went into effect July 2003 and requires companies, with customers who live in California, to make notification if their personally identifiable financial information may have been accessed without authorisation. Expect more security breach disclosures when a federal law similar to SB 1386 becomes law.

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