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Cybersecurity and the Fifth of November

As October comes to an end, many in Great Britain prepare to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, memorializing the failed revolutionary Gunpowder Plot. A modern twist on the holiday, popularized by an anarchist movie, has the cyber world preparing as well – although these preparations are more defensive than festive.

Last year there were reports of planned denial/disruption of service (DDOS) attacks that would target the websites of companies like Facebook and government agencies like the NSA to commemorate the November 5th holiday. Though little came of the claims, November 2013 was one of the two most active months for public company cyber breaches.

Public companies have faced 36 cyber breaches so far in 2014. The 3.6 breaches per month are slightly down from the 3.67 breaches per month last year. But if this November is anything like last year, the 2014 total is projected to surpass the 2013 total.

Last year’s breaches mostly targeted personal information, such as names, address, emails, and passwords. This year’s breaches have shifted to financial information, such as debit and credit card numbers and other banking information. Of the eight breaches last November, two targeted financial, information while the other six targeted personal information.

As always, individuals are encouraged to take precautionary steps to protect their information. Instead of relying solely on the cyber defenses of the companies a consumer does business with, individuals should consider limiting the type and amount of information given to companies, creating strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed, and frequently monitoring their financial accounts for unusual activity.

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