Identity Theft

Are Businesses Able to Protect Your Information?

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Many companies are now looking to big data to increase their business, but this may also leave them just as vulnerable to data breaches as they were before, raising the question of how well they can protect your information.

Today, just 35 percent of companies believe they have the ability to detect a data breach within minutes of its having taken place, and 22 percent say they would need a day to do so, according to a new poll from McAfee. This problem might be exacerbated when companies deal with big data because they may not know how to properly analyze or secure it.

In all, nearly three out of every five companies suffered data breaches last year, and about a quarter of those said they were able to identify it within just a few minutes, with an even smaller percentage being able to identify the cause of the incident in that time period, the report said. The total amount of security-related information stored by these companies amounts to between 11 and 15 terabytes of data per week, and that number will at least double in each of the next few years. However, 58 percent of those polled said they kept that data for less than three months, which may be counter to their interests when it comes to protecting consumer information.

“If you’re in a fight, you need to know that while it’s happening, not after the fact,” said Mike Fey, executive vice president and worldwide chief technology officer at McAfee. “This study has shown what we’ve long suspected — that far too few organizations have real-time access to the simple question, ‘Am I being breached?’ Only by knowing this, can you stop it from happening.”

In fact, of the 855 data breaches studied by the company, 63 percent took weeks or more to be discovered, despite the fact that the information stolen from these businesses was taken in seconds or minutes in 46 percent of all cases, the report said.

“Your personal identifying information almost certainly can be found in hundreds of databases, and you have no way of knowing about it. Any number of them may have already been compromised — it could be as simple as someone selling a list to a third party,” says Credit.com Co-Founder and Chairman Adam Levin. “Identity thieves are undoubtedly hoarding facts and probabilities about consumers that will determine whether or not they become the victim of a crime despite their best efforts to protect themselves.”

That’s why it’s all the more important, however, to keep a close eye on all financial documents, including bank statements, credit card bills, and even credit reports, to make sure that your personal information has not been compromised and used for any fraudulent activity. Consumers can check their credit reports for free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once per year, and can monitor their credit scores for free once per month using Credit.com’s Credit Report Card.

Image: iStockphoto

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