Thomas G. Stephens, Jr., CPA, CITP, CGMA

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the total number of data breaches reported in the United States during 2015 was 781. This was the second-highest number of record and brings the total number of breaches reported since 2005 to 5,810.

A deeper dive into the numbers revealed:

  • Businesses and medical establishments lead the way in breaches, with over three-fourths of all breaches attributable to these two segments.

FEATURE 2 FIGURE 1

Figure 1 - Business and Medical Establishments Account for 76% of All Data Breaches
  • Hacking was the leading cause of data breaches and was involved in 37.9% of the reported breaches. Employee error/negligence was the second leading cause, occurring in 14.9% of the cases.

FEATURE 2 FIGURE 2

Figure 2 - Hacking and Employee Error/Negligence Account for Over Half of All Data Breaches
  • Data breaches are not limited to electronic records; 12.4% of the breaches reported in 2015 involved paper records.

FEATURE 2 FIGURE 3

Figure 3 - Paper Breaches Remain a Significant Risk, Accounting for 12.4% of All Data Breaches
  • Of the breaches reported in 2015, 338 exposed Social Security numbers and 160 exposed credit/debit card information.

FEATURE 2 FIGURE 4

Figure 4 – Social Security Numbers and Credit/Debit Card Numbers Continue to be Compromised at Alarming Rates

In sum, the numbers and the trends are clear – data security issues will remain a leading concern for all business professionals for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Stephens is a shareholder in K2 Enterprises, where he develops and presents continuing professional education programs to accounting, financial, and other business professionals across North America. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..