Face It: Your Personal Information Is Not Safe, Even From Your Neighbor!

I was shocked to read in the The Washington Post this morning that businesses, governments and educational institutions reported 50 percent more data breaches last year than in 2007, exposing the personal records of at least 35.7 million Americans, according to a nonprofit group that works to prevent identity theft.

Nearly 37 percent of the breaches occurred at businesses, while schools accounted for roughly 20 percent of the reported incidents. The center also found that the percentage of breaches attributed to data theft from current and former employees more than doubled from 7 percent in 2007 to nearly 16 percent in 2008.

They say this may be reflective of the economy and that some of the incidents are the result of employees feeling the pinch from the recession. As companies become more stringent with protecting against hackers, insider theft is becoming more prevalent.

I find this completely unacceptable! What is wrong with these people? Suddenly your next door neighbor is a white collar thief?

But like many things in this world, it feels like it is beyond my control, especially when the largest single cause of data breaches came from human error. Lost or stolen laptops and other removable electronic devices, along with the accidental exposure of consumer data -- such as the inadvertent posting of personal data online -- were named as the cause for more than 35 percent of reported incidents.

One important thing I can do is educate myself and take action so as to not "inadvertently" post personal data online. It is also our duty as citizens to not let government or big corporations take away our privacy rights. We must stay aware, and put pressure on state and federal legislators for regulatory infrastructure to protect privacy.

Here are several resources that have helped me understand how to keep a rap on my ever-increasing digital footprint. Please, I beg of you, WATCH this "big brother" video... then tell your loved ones and children to do the same. You don't want to wake up one morning in the middle of a nightmare do you?