John Hey on WOOD TV8: Most 2016 Data Breaches Happened in US

Nearly half of all data breaches in the world in 2016 happened in the U.S., a new report says.

The annual report from Risk Based Security, released Wednesday, says 68 percent of breaches recorded in 2016 happened in the U.S. The U.S. saw 2,000 of them — almost 10 times as many as the country with the next most breaches. 2.9 billion user records held by American organizations were compromised in those hacks.

“It’s a target-rich environment. It’s usually financially motivated, so there’s a lot of targets in the U.S.,” John Hey, the COO of Grandville-based IT firm Trivalent Group, explained. “And the other thing, which is a little bit even more unfortunate, is that the U.S. kind of lags behind other a lot of countries in taking security measures.”

He cited the nation’s late adopting of the EMV security chips in credit cards that aim to protect users’ information.

Hey said the ability to trace the origin of attacks is “just a tick behind where they’re actually coming from.” He said there’s been some success, but it’s a struggle for authorities and private security firms to keep up.

Taking some simple actions can go a long way in protecting yourself, like having a strong password and changing it often and being wary of unfamiliar emails.

“The best security measures that even a business that’s minding its p’s and q’s can put in place, an unknowing user can undo,” Hey said.

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