A new report from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris reveals that the personal information of 2.5 million Californians was exposed in 2012 as a result of electronic data breaches.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the report further revealed that of those victimized, simple encryption would have protected 1.4 million of them. Harris encourages companies to protect consumers by encrypting their data when moving it or sending it outside of the network.
"Data breaches are a serious threat to individuals' privacy, finances and even personal security,” Harris said in a press release. "Companies and government agencies must do more to protect people by protecting data."
According to Harris' office, California was the first state to pass legislation in 2003 requiring private- and public-sector organizations to notify residents of breaches potentially affecting personal information. Starting in 2012, any breach involving more than 500 California residents had to be reported to the Attorney General's Office.
Of the 131 breaches reported for 2012, 26 percent involved the retail industry, while finance and insurance represented 23 percent. In 45 percent of cases, breaches resulted from security measures not being adopted or carried out, while "intentional intrusions" from external or unauthorized internal sources were blamed for the remaining 55 percent.