In this fast-paced digital era, proper data management is a must for all organizations. Thanks to the advent of cloud-based technologies and other similar innovations, it’s now easier for large-scale organizations to secure and transfer information. But while the introduction of these tools has led to several advancements, it’s important to be aware of their points of vulnerability.
Now that so much information is being transmitted online, identity theft has become one of the most prevalent crimes of the 21st century. The number of ways it can be committed—alongside the intricate ways cybercriminals can cover their tracks—make identity theft protection one of the biggest priorities your company should focus on.
While the numbers may give a worrying look into the future of data management and security, they will also help you identify which areas of your company’s workflow are susceptible to attacks.
Identity Theft Facts and Statistics
1: The Identity Theft Research Center states that 1,291 data breaches were reported in the first three quarters of 2021. (Consumer Affairs)
Over the past year, the world tried to recover from the impact of the pandemic, but cybercriminals were relentless in their activities. The number was worryingly close to the 2017 record of 1,632 data attacks.
The most common form of data hacks in 2021 were phishing, ransomware, and supply chain attacks, some of which made national and global news due to the sheer scale of the damage.
2: In 2021, businesses in the U.S. lost over an estimated $7.2 billion to identity-fraud attacks. Moreover, consumers lost an average of $1100 per incident. (Infosecurity)
While the number is undoubtedly eye-catching, the recent numbers paint a dismaying picture. Ransomware payouts were up by 82% in the first half of 2021 alone, which is an alarming number for any cybersecurity expert. Moreover, some of the most common attacks targeted people’s credit card information. In 2018, credit card fraud took up 35.4% of identity theft cases for that year.
3: Businesses that often deal with senior citizens are at risk, as 18.9% of identity theft cases target the elderly. (Safe at Last)
Senior citizens are the most targeted demographic by cybercriminals among those victimized by identity theft. While their lack of knowledge about modern technology may be considered a leading reason, some studies have also suggested that they are more trusting than younger age groups.
The most common ways they get targeted are through telephone calls and phishing scams. And when they do lose money, they tend to lose a lot more than younger generations.
4: At least 3–10% of the country’s annual health budget is lost to fraud, which was calculated at $683 billion for 2021. (Fortunly & Congressional Budget Office)
The healthcare industry has been hectic over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As healthcare employees were pushed to the limit, criminals took it as the prime opportunity to cash out from exhausted companies and unsuspecting clients.
The idea that an allocated $683 billion to help sick Americans was lost to fraudsters is a loss that not many people will be happy just to let go of.
5: 155.8 million Americans felt the impact of data breaches over the past year (Define Financial)
In a country that 329.5 million people call home, the fact that almost half of the population was a victim of data attacks last year is enough to cause worry. It should also alert you to tighten up your data security measures.
A quick demographic check of the identity theft victims reveals that more women (63%) get their data compromised than men (37%). Additionally, it’s interesting to note that 61% of these victims hold a college degree.
6: From January to September 2021, there were 495 million attempted ransomware attacks—a 148% increase from the same period last year. (MSSP Alert)
This unprecedented number of data attacks shows how brazen cybercriminals have become with their activities. With three months not yet accounted for, one can only expect the overall number for the year to be a lot higher, which was estimated to be at 714 million.
Phishers and hackers targeted companies that manage sensitive information. SonicWall president Bill Conner said that the upward trend of data breaches would negatively affect everyone, including governments, if left unresolved
Identity Theft Trends to Expect in 2022 and Beyond
The statistics we mentioned earlier are only one part of the identity theft equation. In fact, these numbers can be used to look to the future.
1: Increased attacks on IoT devices
The increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices at homes and offices undeniably brings a ton of convenience. But while these technologies make work easy, they also provide more avenues for hackers to breach security systems.
Even the most minute devices like a smart coffee machine or smart bulbs can be used as entry points for data breaches. If your company uses IoT in your infrastructure, it’s in your best interests to procure identity theft protection software.
2: Zero-trust security frameworks will become the norm
With a well-placed security system, most data breaches can be easily prevented. However, there have been instances where an insider created openings for attackers to exploit. These shortcomings may either be accidental or intentional, but the damage insider-induced attacks cause cannot be ignored.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see more companies be strict with who has access to their sensitive information. Audits on personnel will become commonplace moving forward.
3: Larger demand and interest for third-party cybersecurity vendors
Not all companies have the resources, expertise, or staffing to create their very own security system from scratch. Third-party digital security firms will become more popular as companies look for a pre-cut system that they can immediately implement.
However, the cost and resource requirements of some solutions may prove to be more of a hindrance than a boon. Choosing which service to tap will be critical in maximizing its use.
4: The cyber skill gap will greatly affect the job market
You may have noticed that it’s hard to find enough qualified IT personnel to man your security requirements. That’s because there has been a shortage of qualified workers in the field for some years now.
The shortage is estimated to be at 40%, so workers with the necessary skillset can dictate the costs of the workforce moving forward. It may take a while before the skill gap evens out, so it may be more cost-effective to outsource your IT team rather than try to hire internally.
5: Governments have a vested interest in cybersecurity
The gargantuan losses the American government incurred due to cyberattacks convinced them to focus more of their resources on safeguarding their systems. Governments worldwide will also be eager to find the next big thing in cybersecurity and incorporate it into their systems to protect critical information.
Interest that comes from the state means huge money for the cybersecurity industry, which will drive innovations that will push the industry forward.
Identity Theft Protection 101
The situation regarding identity theft may seem dire, but your company doesn’t have to throw in the towel. Preventing identity theft should be at the top of your priority list.
1: Optimize your customer identity proofing process
Vetting a prospective customer is an integral part of business, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be inefficient or difficult. Streamline the process, whether by limiting the number of people involved or using biometric authentication as a verification factor.
2: Utilize multi-factor authentication to prevent credential theft
A single lock often cannot keep the thieves out, but multiple locks should discourage them. Multi-factor authentication is a popular approach to cybersecurity as it requires several verification methods to crack. These additional buffers can stop data breaches from happening if applied correctly. When organizations use MFA that relies on a biometric factor, the likelihood of credential theft becomes almost nonexistent.
3: Remind your clients to review their statements regularly
Since you often have a lot of data to sift through, it’s virtually impossible to check every account that you hold with a human eye. Remind your clients to check their accounts constantly for any signs of suspicious activity; they’re far more likely to notice subtle or minor issues than most automated systems. This way, you turn your customer base into an additional layer of protection for your business.
4: Ensure proper record usage and disposal
Whenever you’re handling sensitive data, it’s always in your best interests to ensure that it’s handled with care. Limit the number of people who have access to such information. Moreover, establish systems that will dispose of old data that you don’t need.
5: Review and tweak your security protocols
Nowadays, an established cybersecurity protocol is more than just an organizational preference. However, the industry’s dynamic pace makes regular audits a necessity. Make it a point to cross-reference your cybersecurity system with a set of criteria to keep your security infrastructure up to date, and seek ways to improve and update your systems where possible.
6: Implement systems to detect synthetic identity theft
Fraudsters use a myriad of identity theft tools to steal money from businesses and governments. Make sure that your company is protected by implementing a system dedicated to stopping synthetic identity theft. Look for trusted companies that provide top-class identity theft protection to safeguard your data.
Stay Ahead of Identity Theft
Handling sensitive data isn’t easy in the first place, and cybercriminals only make the job tougher. Your company and clients deserve top-notch protection from identity fraud.
If you’re looking for a reliable partner for your system’s overall safety, Q5id is happy to help. Our identity and access management solutions are highly flexible and guaranteed to protect all facets of your organization. From encrypted storage facilities to identity management, we’ve helped companies focus on growing their business without fear of major losses.
Interested to learn more about our services? Get in touch with us today!