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Data Breaches Up Almost 50% in 2008, ITRC Says

Reports of data breaches in the U.S. rose almost 50 percent in 2008, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Identity Theft Resource Center on Monday.

The ITRC 2008 data breach report, which extracts data from several different breach disclosure sources, reckons that there were 656 compromises in the U.S. last year, up from 446 in 2007.

About 12 percent of the reports came from financial-services firms, up from 7 percent in 2007, the ITRC says. Financial institutions reported more than 18 million records breached last year. Overall, more than 35 million records were compromised in 2008, the report says.

Only 2.4 percent of all breaches involved data where encryption or other strong protective measures were in place, and only 8.5 percent involved password protection, the ITRC reported. "It is obvious that the bulk of breached data was unprotected by either encryption or even passwords," the study states.

Malware attacks, hacking, and insider theft accounted for nearly 30 percent of breaches that cited a cause, the ITRC said. Insider theft more than doubled between 2007 and 2008, accounting for 15.7 percent of the breaches.

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