Here’s some comforting news. A report from data protection research Ponemon Institute said 110 million Americans had their personal information compromised over the past 12 months.

Ponemon Institute created the report in conjunction with CNN Money

What kind of compromises are we talking about? Everything from the basics such as your name and phone number to the most sensitive including credit card numbers, security questions and your address. In total, 432 million accounts were accessed by hackers in the time period.

The 432 million figure isn’t entirely accurate. It comes from the Identity Theft Resource Center’s data and from corporate disclosures such as the Target hack during the holiday shopping season. Some corporate entities haven’t been as forthcoming with precise numbers.

What’s with the huge increase in hacking? Americans and people around the world are increasingly turning to the internet for purchases. This combined with the new, more sophisticated techniques from hackers have led to the influx in data breaches.

Online security has jumped to the forefront over the past 6 months. The breach at Target during the holiday season showed many shoppers just how exposed their information can be.

The Heartbleed Bug was even more serious. The OpenSSL vulnerability exposed most internet users’ information to hackers. Many large websites were quick to patch the security flaw, but thousands of websites remain vulnerable. While serious, the Heartbleed Bug failed to generate as much concern as the Target data breach for most users according to a recent Gallup Poll.

What’s the best way to keep your information safe? Strong passwords, and change them regularly. Also, companies have been increasingly proactive about data breaches. If you read about one, see what the company recommends doing and act on it.

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