Personal data theft skyrockets in past year

According to new research, personal data theft is rising at an alarming rate -- but what is to blame?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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As data breaches, cybercrime and hacking rates rise, it is no surprise that reports of personal data theft are also climbing.

On Monday, the Pew Research Center released a new survey which states that 18 percent of U.S. adults online have reported the theft of sensitive data, including financial information and Social Security numbers. In July 2013, less than a year ago, only 11 percent of U.S. adults had reported sensitive data theft.

Theft rates appear to have risen, but the number of adults who reported having email or social networking accounts compromised have stayed the same at 21 percent, which suggests that security problems in retail or banking systems -- such as the high-profile Target breach -- as well as phishing campaigns or vulnerable online shopping systems -- may also be to blame.

The Heartbleed bug, for example, has rocked the confidence of online users. When you see the padlock sign in your browser, it used to mean that sensitive information, including credit card numbers or passwords, was encrypted and safe. However, Heartbleed is a two-year-old flaw which hypothetically allowed criminals to take this data without discovery, and it is estimated this vulnerability could have affected up to 60 percent of online activity. As a result, online companies have gone into a patching craze over the past few days, and updates are being rolled out across many popular services.

Read on: PEW

Image credit: CNET

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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