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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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Data Breaches Plague California

The state has pushed for security upgrades at major retailers after many customers fell victim to predator hackers.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released the 2013 California Data Breach Report on Tuesday.  It revealed a major increase in breaches in the past year. There were 167 data breaches reported, a 28% increase from 2012. 

An estimated 18.5 million records of California residents were compromised in these breaches. The two largest data breaches were from Target and Livingsocial, accounting for 15 million of the records that were affected.

"Data breaches threaten the privacy, the security, and the economic well-being of consumers and businesses," said Attorney General Kamala Harris. 

The report also recommends that retailers properly encrypt data, chip-enable their software and immediately notify all affected individuals in the event of a data breach.

The health care sector should also strongly encrypt medical information, especially data stored on portable devices.  

The report also suggested that the California State Legislature amend the breach notice law and implement new legislation to allocate more funds to small retailers to help avoid data breaches.

Attorney General Harris recommends that consumers closely monitor their credit cards, bank statements and online accounts as well as cancel any credit or debit cards if they suspect fraud. 

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