Chances are pretty high that information about you or people you know was compromised in 2015. Why? Well, because in 2015 made a record with a total of nine mega-breaches, each of more than 10 million records. And at the end of 2015, the world experienced the largest data breach ever publicly reported with a whopping 191 million records exposed!

So, yeah, you can do the math about the chances of data about you being stolen...

It’s scary how many companies hide exposed records number

The total reported number of exposed identities jumped 23% to 429 million. However, the number of companies choosing not to report how many records they lost in 2015 skyrocketed by 85%. So the real amount of compromised profiles easily goes beyond half a billion...

Actually, Gemalto puts the number much higher. It says that more than 707.5 million data records were compromised in 2015!

2015 data breaches infographic by Gemalto

What does that mean for you and everyone you know? Well, it means that there might have been a fuck up, your data got into the wrong hands doing whatever they want with it, while you were sleeping, or relaxing on a nice beach, or taking your dog for a walk, or… You get it.

It is disturbing that the number of companies choosing to hold back critical details after a breach is increasing. Transparency is critical to security!

Danger lurks from everywhere, especially email

Not only have data breaches become more frequent, but their impact has become greater - not just in the sheer volume of information or assets stolen, but in the very nature of what hackers are targeting. The extremely sensitive data lost in the hacked emails at the White House and the US Office of Personnel Management are prime examples.

2016 data breaches are already shocking

Unfortunately, given the successful breaches of high-value targets in 2015, we can be sure that 2016 will only get worse...

For example, US-based company Hold Security announced in May 2016 that it had discovered over 270 million e-mail usernames and passwords being given away for free in the Russian criminal underground! This includes about 57 million accounts, 40 million Yahoo accounts, 33 million Hotmail accounts, and 24 million Gmail addresses… The list goes on and on with various other email providers from all around the world. And how do you know if your Google account isn’t there, for example? Your Android phone, Google Drive and many other services are based on it...

And what about that major LinkedIn hack from 2012 that came back in 2016 to haunt the company and 117 million of its users with their email and password combination stolen? Scary…

How can you protect yourself from data theft?

Well, the only way to secure all your data from anyone in this world would be to... completely disappear. Like in faking your own death and going to live alone on a desert island. Or like in, say, alien abduction. Your old data would still be available... But who cares, right?

So you’re not not THAT paranoid or unlucky, the best thing you could do would be to minimize the attack surface.

First of all, the fewer times you share sensitive information about yourself with someone, the better. Especially when you don’t trust the one asking for it.

Encrypt, encrypt, encryptSecure Phone

But you’ll still need to communicate… Email, phone, chat, that kind of stuff. Luckily, there are ways to encrypt all these so that even if someone intercepts your communication, they won’t be able to decode it. There are apps out there that do that combined with great user experience, such as Secure Email, Secure Chat, and Secure Voice.

To take things to the next level, you can look for an entire smartphone built around security. Like our Secure Phone and Secure BlackBerry models, which do not only feature end-to-end encrypted communication, they also have many other secure apps, custom secure operating systems, and everything else you would need to make a smartphone a really, really secure device. No malware, no bloatware, no backdoors, no hidden data leaks, and even no web browsers!

Do yourself a favor - get smarter about it