Understanding Breach Clarity & the Problem of Data Breaches
How often do data breaches occur?
Unfortunately, with alarming frequency. In 2018, there were more than 1,200 data breaches and 14 million victims of identity fraud, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. With data breach notification laws strengthening around the country, consumers are receiving more notices than ever that their personal information has exposed – with the average person receiving two notifications a year. This has created a growing sense of unease, coupled with uncertainty about exactly what to do. If you’ve received a data breach notification, your first step should be to check the Breach Clarity Score and then follow the recommended action steps.
How does the Breach Clarity Score work?
We developed a patent-pending algorithm to analyze 1,000+ data points, compute the risks of each publicly-reported breach, and prescribe the most important action steps. We obtain the information on the latest breaches from our nonprofit partner, the Identity Theft Resource Center, which maintains one of the most robust listings of data breach information and is updated several times per day.
Our years of experience working with professionals on the front lines of fighting fraud enables our machine learning algorithm to use advanced logic. For instance, when the algorithm ascertains social security numbers were exposed, it will make specific recommendations based on how fraudsters use SSNs. This may include applying for a tax refund or opening a new bank account. SSNs are not, on the other hand, frequently used by fraudsters to make online purchases. Because it’s built on a machine learning foundation, the algorithm becomes even more precise and intelligent with each analysis. With expert humans in the loop, new rules are added as Breach Clarity researches new breaches, new fraud scams and new forms of risk mitigation.
What is financial identity fraud?
Financial identity fraud can take many forms. The Identity Theft Resource Center offers this simple description, “Financial identity theft occurs when someone gains access to your financial information and uses it for their own gain while pretending to be you.”
In any given year, about one-third of data breach victims experience identity fraud, the consequences of which can be serious and long-lasting. The recommended action steps that accompany the Breach Clarity Score are designed to mitigate the potential harm consumers may experience after their personal and financial information exposed in a data breach.
Should I sign up for identity theft protection?
Commercial identity theft protection services can provide valuable services that go beyond what consumers can (or will) do on their own. Yet for budget-conscious consumers willing to invest the time and effort, some basic services are available for free. If you’re going to buy, be aware that there are significant differences in quality and effectiveness between various identity protection providers and packages–which is why buyers need to be very careful that they are choosing the features that meet their top identity risks, and choosing only highly-rated providers who bring the strongest value. Look for safety features recommended by Breach Clarity breach search tool, which will always call for a lot more than generic call center tips or ‘identity theft insurance’.
I’ve been breached multiple times. How is that taken into account?
Breaches are a growing epidemic, and consumers will experience on average, at least two breaches each year.
In the future, Breach Clarity users will be able see the aggregated result of multiple data compromises. This is among many features that will be provided in a premium version of Breach Clarity offered through a consumer’s own financial institution.
Are there other steps I can take beyond what the Breach Clarity Score recommended?
Our current offering prioritizes recommendations so you know which are the most beneficial and most worth your time. Our goal is to continue expanding and enriching our offerings for the benefit of both consumers and financial institutions.
There are so many organizations offering advice about data breaches and identity theft. How are you different from everyone else?
Two key things set Breach Clarity apart:
Our unique approach.Our Breach Clarity Score is a new, intelligent way to understand data breaches. It is rooted in the founders’ desire to put objective, trusted and highly beneficial information into the hands of consumers. Breach Clarity’s patent-pending algorithm analyzes the most robust source of publicly-reported data breaches available. Our advice is never self-serving or designed to provoke unnecessary fear.
Our credentials. The co-founders of Breach Clarity bring deep expertise from their respective vantage points. Jim Van Dyke is a data breach expert courtroom witness and identity fraud researcher. Al Pascual is a recognized expert in financial crime. Together, they leverage partnerships with other respected entities in the fight against identity crime. Learn more about the Breach Clarity story.
Am I protected by my financial institutions?
Financial institutions are generally willing to cover losses, and that is a good thing for consumers. Even with these available protections, the average consumer reported paying $375 according to the Federal Trade Commission. Unfortunately, cybercriminals continue to come up with sophisticated and devious ways to obtain and misuse your personal information. Breach Clarity’s recommended action steps are an important way to work hand-in-hand with your financial institution.
How do you keep your recommendations free of commercial influence?
The Breach Clarity algorithm and settings were created based on our impartial expert witness history. While we anticipate the opportunity for many commercial relationships that enable us to protect consumers and enterprises, as a mission-driven organization we are committed to always put the needs of honest individuals first.
A breach I was affected by scored the lowest possible Breach Clarity Score. Do I need to do anything?
If you were the victim of a data breach, you owe it to yourself to take action every time. The price of inaction can be very high. Breach Clarity exists to help you anticipate the most likely repercussions of a breach, and then take the highest-payoff action steps.
Please note that even breaches with a low score warrant appropriate consumer action. Even a breach with a score of a ‘1’ shouldn’t be ignored, because every breach in our database represents increased risk of identity fraud.
Security and fraud protection seem confusing and complicated. Do my actions really make a difference?
Yes, your action makes a very important difference. Breach Clarity was created precisely to clear up unnecessary confusion. Our Breach Clarity Score is designed to present information and action steps clearly and simply.
It’s common to translate confusion into inaction – or worse, the wrong action. For instance, many consumers who learn they were impacted by a data breach will focus on credit monitoring. That action is only prudent if the data compromised may lead to the fraudulent opening of a credit account.
Breach Clarity recommendations are similar to that of a doctor making an educated diagnosis. Only then can the doctor prescribe the most effective methods of treatment.
Can I know for certain that my data was exposed?
Nearly all organizations store identity-holder data in structured databases. This allows them to use security-monitoring software (sometimes referred to as ‘forensics’) to determine which data the intruders likely accessed. Breach Clarity was created to clear up widespread guesswork and confusion by applying our algorithm to the credentials that companies publicly reported as being exposed.
How is Breach Clarity funded?
Following initial self-funding by Jim Van Dyke, in 2019 we received seed funding by a closely-held Bay Area private investment firm.