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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

In 2012, Nearly a Quarter of the Population Affected by Data Breaches

There is seemingly no end to the number of services Americans take advantage of over the Internet. The world is pretty much at your fingertips when you can bank, shop and even work over the Web. However, all of the passwords, personal identification information (PII) and bank account numbers that you juggle to do business over the Internet may not be as well guarded as you think.

In 2012, estimates from a study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee Inc. showed that more than a quarter of all Americans were informed that their sensitive material may have been compromised because of a database breach. This information ranges from Social Security numbers to checking account PIN codes.

An Internet powerhouse failed to protect its users
One of the highest-profile breaches of the year came when a huge portal containing the passwords and PII of more than 450,000 Yahoo! email accounts was compromised. This incident made clear that the Web company, one of the largest search engine and email hosts online, had failed to take even basic security precautions to protect user information.

In one week alone, millions of people were left vulnerable
The Yahoo! incident was far from the only one that plagued internet users, as June of 2012 resulted in a bevy of database breaches, some of the widest ranging taking place in less than a week. In one fell swoop, a group of hackers had gotten the password information of almost 6.5 million users of the social network LinkedIn, and days later compromised 1.5 million members of the popular dating website eHarmony.

Even government bodies weren't immune to hackers
Throughout the year, hackers had even been able to get information from municipal governments, including the Chicago Police Department in May during a NATO summit. Worse, this took place when security on such websites was supposed to be on high-alert.

All of this shows that simply trusting a website to guard your PII is hardly the safest way to protect yourself from identity theft. You need to take extra steps to insure that the growing trend of cybersecurity breaches doesn't affect your finances. A credit monitoring program can help protect your identity in an age where personal information is more vulnerable than ever. By alerting you to strange activity taking place under your name, you'll be protecting your credit score from threats both on and offline.