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2.5 million exposed in data breaches, Calif. attorney general says

July 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, July 3 (UPI) -- More than 2.5 million Californians had Social Security numbers and other sensitive information exposed in data breaches, the state attorney general says.

A report by Attorney General Kamala Harris, released Monday, said 131 data breaches were reported, mostly in 2012. The breaches occurred at retail companies, banks, government agencies and universities, with one company, American Express Travel Related Services, named 19 times.

The disclosure, part of a 2003 state law requiring data collectors to report security breaches, comes amid increasing concerns about the safety of personal data as financial transactions and records are increasingly moved online, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.

Nearly half the people whose information was exposed could have been protected if the data had been encrypted, Harris' report said.

"This [report] is on the heels of the Snowden incident," Eric Chiu of the Mountain View, Calif., computer security firm HyTrust, said in reference to fugitive Edward Snowden's release of classified government information. "It's yet another wake-up call to companies and government organizations to focus on security access to data, which is ultimately what insiders and hackers want to profit from."

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