Study finds data breaches up 69 percent

It also finds breaches are up in health-care providers and banks
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Businesses, governments and universities reported a 69 percent increase in data breaches in the first half of 2008, compared with a similar period in 2007, according to a study by a nonprofit group that works to prevent fraud.

The Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego tracked 342 data breach reports from Jan. 1 to June 27. More than one-third of the reports came from businesses in the first half of this year, a 27 percent increase over total breaches in 2007.

The center found that data breaches among health care providers and banks also increased. They account for 15 percent and 10 percent of the breaches, respectively. Breaches from educational institutions and government entities and the military declined for the third year in a row, the center found.

Yet Linda Foley, the center's co-founder, said it is difficult to say whether the numbers show an increase in breaches, an increase in reporting, or both. She said better state laws on data breach notification also may be encouraging more companies to audit their own security measures.

''Part of this may be that organizations are finding out about more breaches because they're really starting to look for them,'' Foley said. ''The other part is that companies are coming forward because they want to control the flow and spin of the disclosure.''