Attorney General Josh Stein announced Jan. 28 that a record number of data breaches had been reported to the N.C. Department of Justice last year as he released the department’s 2019 data breach annual report.
In 2019, 1,210 breaches were reported to the NCDOJ – the most reported in a year since the reporting requirement began in 2005.
“Last year, nearly 1.1 million North Carolinians were affected by 1,210 data breaches,” Mr. Stein said in a release. “That’s too many breaches, and too many North Carolinians’ information at risk. North Carolina’s laws to protect consumers’ information are strong, but they need to be stronger. I will continue to push for legislation that does more to protect people from data breaches and identity fraud.”
Organizations submitted 1,210 data breach notices to the department in 2019 that affected 1.08 million North Carolinians. Under the North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005, businesses and state and local government agencies are required to report any incidents of unauthorized access or acquisition of records or data concerning personal information to the NCDOJ.
In 2019, Mr. Stein and Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, reintroduced the Act to Strengthen Identity Theft Protections, which will prevent data breaches and protect victims affected by breaches and the compromise of their information. Mr. Stein stated he will continue to champion stronger data security legislation for North Carolinian consumers in 2020.
In July 2019, Mr. Stein reached the largest-ever data breach settlement in history with Equifax in relation to the credit bureau’s 2017 data breach – the largest-ever breach of consumer data in national history. He served on the executive committee of the multistate investigation into the breach, which led to a $425 million multistate settlement.
More information on data breaches in 2019:
• In 2019, 1.08 million North Carolinians were affected by data breaches, a 45% decrease from the 1.9 million North Carolinians affected in 2018.
• Hacking breaches reached an all-time high in 2019, with the 610 breaches related to hacking making up more than half of all reported breaches this year.
• Phishing scams increased by 10% since 2018, with 304 breaches reported in the last year.
• Nearly half of all breaches reported involved emails in 2019, up 10% from breaches involving emails in 2018.
• Accidental release and display breaches and lost-in-transit and stolen equipment breaches declined in 2019.
North Carolinians can learn more about how to protect themselves from identity theft and how to get a security freeze by visiting ncdoj.gov.