Today’s society is more connected than ever before. No other time in human history could someone in India conduct a video call with someone from the United States while walking down the street. But this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 21st-century connectivity.
Driven in large part by a phenomenon known as the Internet of Things (IoT), we are now in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution – aptly called Industry 4.0. In short, IoT is, more or less, a network of devices, vehicles, appliances, and all sorts of other objects fitted with software, sensors, and other technologies that enable them to connect to each other and exchange data. They talk to each other.
The smart devices create all sorts of opportunities that improve efficiency, provide economic benefits, and significantly reduce human effort. There are figures to prove this, as well. If in 2017 there were roughly 8.4 billion such devices, that number is expected to reach 30 billion by 2020. The IoT market value is set to reach $7.1 trillion by 2020.
Data Breaches Are on the Rise
But as good as all of these sounds, there is also another, more worrying trend that’s developing right alongside IoT. Cybercrime is at an all-time high, particularly regarding data breaches. Ever since experts began monitoring the situation, data breaches were always on the rise. But it seems that this increase is not consistent – it’s accelerating faster.
Statistics show there was a 29% increase in data breaches in the first quarter of 2017 as opposed to 2016, and a total, annual growth of 37%. The business sector is still the most affected, making up 54.7% of all these breaches. The healthcare industry follows it with 22.6%, education with 11%, and finally, the financial and military sectors, each with 5.8 and 5.6 percent, respectively. What’s particularly troubling here is that criminals highly seek Social Security numbers, and it’s these SSNs that are being exposed in most of these data breaches.
Worse yet; the majority of industries are not required to provide detailed reports about the exact number and the type of information stolen during a breach. 67% of breach notices didn’t mention the number of compromised records. However, with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws coming into play, this will be required to report.
Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said that “People who are left in the dark about the details of a data breach cannot effectively protect themselves and this can have serious consequences. Breach notifications need to help, not hinder, solving the problems that data breaches can bring.”
It comes at a time when committing these sorts of attacks is relatively simple and straightforward.
“It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of sophistication or technical savvy to commit this type of fraud,” said Eva Velasquez, the Identity Theft Resource Center president, and CEO. “Criminals can simply purchase some malware through the fraud ecosystem and then do some spam, do some phishing and boom — they have all the materials they need to commit identity theft.”
The fact of the matter is that data breaches are now a common occurrence and many governments and business organizations are not taking all the necessary steps to prevent them from happening, placing citizens at high risk of identity theft.