Massachusetts data breaches, large and small, hit record level in 2013

January 29, 2014

Craig Douglas

While last month’s data breach at Target Corp. has proved a rude awakening for hundreds-of-thousands of Bay State shoppers, the reality is that online attacks on Massachusetts residents have exploded in recent years.

Roughly one-in-six Massachusetts residents was exposed to a data-security breach last year, as the number of attacks reported by businesses and nonprofits surged to a new record since the state began tracking such information in 2007.

According to information provided by the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, there were 1,555 reported data breaches in Massachusetts in 2013, a 30 percent spike over the 1,143 recorded a year earlier. Prior to 2012, the state had never recorded more than 613 reported breaches in a calendar year.

Last year’s reported breaches involved personal information — social security numbers, credit card accounts, driver’s licenses — affecting some 1.16 million Massachusetts residents, more than triple the 340,462 residents affected by reported breaches in 2012.

Approximately 81 percent of last year’s compromised accounts stemmed from a single incident reported by Target in December. As of this week, the Minnesota-based retailer said 947,000 Massachusetts-based customer accounts were compromised in the December attack.