Massive increase in hacks, personal data theft

The Dutch data protection authority AP reported an explosive increase in the number of hacks aimed at stealing personal data last year. AP received 1,173 reports of such data breaches in 2020, 30 percent more than a year earlier. The previous year, these data leaks increased by 25 percent, AD reports.

“Many people are personally affected if criminals manage to steal their personal data,” AP spokesperson Aleid Wolfsen said to AD. “Criminals use the stolen data for identity fraud and to carry out spam and phishing attacks. The damage of such scams can be such that people really get into trouble and lose all their savings.”

Data leaks occur everywhere, and larger organizations in particular seem to often be targeted by hackers. According to AP, this is often due to poor security. An estimated 600,000 to 2 million people’s data was stolen last year from organizations that only require one password to log in.

The AP therefore advocates for using multi-factor authentication, which requires at least two steps to log in such as a password and a pin sent to your phone. That makes data theft much more difficult, Wolfsen said.

“Multi-factor authentication is a very simple security measure that is mandatory when processing sensitive personal data, but which organizations should actually implement as standard everywhere. That could prevent a lot of suffering,” he said to the newspaper.