The numbers on identity theft are in, and it’s bad news for businesses. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), of the 174 million records breached in 2017, a staggering 91.4 percent came from corporate database attacks.

Beyond their shock value, however, these identity theft statistics put enterprise security in the hot seat to improve data protection, develop better responses and mitigate future attacks.

Inside the Identity Theft Statistics

It’s easy to find personal data for sale. As noted by TechTarget, a recent scan of Dark Web marketplaces by security firm 4iQ found a 41 GB repository containing more than 1.4 billion stolen credentials, all stored in cleartext. As a result, passwords, usernames, birthdays and Social Security numbers are now a dime a dozen, prompting attackers to seek out and monetize every available scrap of data on business networks.

Stolen data is the just the beginning. Given the emerging privacy regulations governing data handling practices around the world, breaches are more than just worrisome for the bottom line — they could also mean significant damage to public reputation and, in some cases, heavy fines.

Improving the Identity Issue

How can enterprises reduce the threat of stolen identity data and improve corporate response? Employee training deserves a mention here, since in-house users are the most likely source of unintentional data breaches. TechRepublic recommended developing specific identity theft protection polices and then taking the time to train users in how they will be implemented and what specific behaviors are expected.

On the technology side of things, it’s time to implement two-factor authentication (2FA), which can easily hamstring most entry-level attacks. Want to cut that 91.4 percent down to a more reasonable level? Start with better authentication.

Automation is also a solid investment here. New security offerings now come with the capability to detect, quarantine and potentially remediate attacks in real time, giving security professionals a chance to shore up human defenses instead of weeding through loads of data.

Incident Response Makes a Difference

Last but not least, CSO Online recommended taking a hard look at existing preparedness and incident response planning. While the identity theft statistics described above make it clear that companies must take immediate action, even the best training and technology won’t completely eliminate the risk of a data breach. As a result, enterprises must have reliable, battle-ready plans on deck that focus on minimizing damage, controlling costs and clearing networks of all malicious code.

Corporate security is in the hot seat over identity theft. The best bet is to take it as a challenge rather than a condemnation. Improve employee training, technological safeguards and existing policy to reduce the impact of stolen data and identity theft.

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