Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill that addresses breaching of security systems and protecting personal information. (Washington State House Democrats)

Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill that addresses breaching of security systems and protecting personal information. (Washington State House Democrats)

You’ve been hacked! Data breaches in Washington on the rise

But fewer people had personal information compromised from cyberattacks in 2019 compared to 2018.

OLYMPIA — The tally of data breaches reported by businesses, colleges, state agencies and private organizations in Washington climbed nearly 20 percent in 2019.

But the number of state residents potentially victimized by cybertheft of personal information was lower than the previous year, according to the state Attorney General’s report on data breaches released last month.

“This report highlights that data breaches remain a serious threat to our privacy,” Ferguson said in a press release.

Under state law, if a public or private entity suffers an unauthorized access of data, they must inform those whose personal information may have been compromised within 45 days. If more than 500 residents are affected, that entity must notify the attorney general’s office.

There were 60 such breaches between July 24, 2018 and July 23, 2019, according to the report. That’s up from 51 the year before.

Of those 60, 38 affected between 1,000 and 10,000 people and 13 impacted between 500 and 1,000 individuals. The single largest breach potentially impacted 50,000 residents.

Cyberattacks most often targeted Social Security numbers and financial account information. Medical information and driver’s license numbers were also sought in many of the breaches.

Overall, an estimated 390,000 people were impacted in 2019, a sharp decline from 2018 when breaches affected 3.4 million residents. However, 3.2 million were linked with the mega-breach of Equifax, the national credit reporting firm.

There were no such mega-breaches in the 2019 cycle. Setting aside the Equifax episode, the number of individuals impacted by small to medium-sized breaches more than doubled in 2019, going from 180,000 to 390,000.

In 2019, 38 of the breaches were reported from the business industry, a classification which covers retail, nonprofits, hospitality, manufacturing and 20 other types of corporate ventures. There were eight in health care, six in financial services, and four each from government agencies and educational institutions.

A copy of each breach notification can be found on the website for the Attorney General’s office.

Meanwhile, Washington is toughening its reporting rules under a new law crafted by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Starting March 1, 2020, the time allowed for notifying consumers and the Attorney General’s Office of a data breach will be trimmed from 45 to 30 days. Also, the types of personally identifiable information covered in notifications will be expanded to include information such as passport numbers, health insurance policy numbers, usernames and email addresses and biometrics such as fingerprints.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Pills taken during police investigation (photo credit: Bellevue Police)
Renton man charged with homicide after selling fentanyl pills to a Bellevue woman

Law enforcement warns of an alarming increase in fentanyl deaths.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

King County logo
Auditors find racial disparities in King County contracts

BIPOC-owned businesses earn contract bids at a much lower rate than white-owned businesses.

T
Auburn police officer’s murder trial expected to be scheduled soon

Jeffrey Nelson is one of the first cops charged under new I-940 guidelines.

Graphic rendering of ADU design used for Renton’s Permit Ready Accessory Dwelling Unit program (courtesy of City of Renton)
Backyard cottages might offer a partial solution to King County’s housing problem

Some cities are embracing the solution better than others.

Photos by Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
King County Council approves $631 million emergency COVID budget

Staff reports The King County Council approved a seventh round of emergency… Continue reading

Flames attack the hillside in Bonney Lake on Sept. 8, 2020. (East Pierce Fire & Rescue photo)
WA firefighters brace for potentially busy weekend

Washington state Department of Natural Resources firefighters were preparing for what could… Continue reading

Photos of Kaloni Bolton. (Courtesy of Kristina Williams)
She couldn’t breathe: Child dies from asthma attack at Renton medical clinic

Family of Kaloni Bolton, 12, seeks answers as to why staff couldn’t treat her.

Sound Transit photo
First ORCA card free for youth ages 6-18

ORCA cards accepted on Sound Transit, King County Metro, Washington State Ferries, and more.