While the world slowed down during the coronavirus pandemic, cybercriminals largely did not. In fact, the number of data breaches has increased.
"The first nine months of this year, we have already surpassed by more than 17% , the total number of data breaches that we had in 2020," said Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Resource Center. "We're on pace to have a record-setting year."
The ITRC data shows that at the end of September, there had been 1,291 reported data breaches, compared with 1,108 in 2020. The all-time high was in 2017, when there were 1,529.
"Phishing and ransomware are the primary ways that the bad actors are getting into our systems and getting our data," Velasquez said
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
In the third quarter of the year, according to the ITRC, 160 million people had their data compromised. While cybercrooks are usually going after databases of information stored by companies, Velasquez said, there are ways you can protect yourself.
- Make sure your software is updated: Out-of-date software on computers and phones can leave them vulnerable to criminals
- Freeze or review credit reports regularly: If you don't have plans to get a new credit card or loan, freezing your credit can be a great move. Otherwise, Velasquez said, you should review your full reports to make sure no new accounts have been opened with your information
- Change passwords regularly: The most valuable information can be email addresses and passwords, because they open a lot of doors for bad actors. Be sure to use strong passwords. Also, consider using a password manager to help keep track of which passwords are for different sites