Washington's Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Tuesday that the state had data breaches at another 'historic high' level this year. The number of data breaches throughout 2022 stands at 4.5 million, after the all-time high in 2021 of 6.3 million breaches.
Ferguson is using the release of his seventh annual data breach report to propose several healthcare-related legislative reforms to protect reproductive and gender-affirming care data, in particular.
"The report shows that data breaches remain at record-breaking severity," stated Ferguson in a press release. "This year, 4.5 million data breach notices were sent to Washingtonians." Ferguson's office began tracking data breach numbers in 2016.
Washington state laws require that when a data breach happens, organizations must send notices to all consumers with exposed data. They also must report any data breaches that affect over 500 Washington citizens to the attorney general's office.
In 2022, 4.5 million notices were sent to affected Washington residents and the attorney general's office received 150 data breach notifications. That is the second-highest number of notifications they've received in a year, and more than double the average amount of breaches from 2016 to 2020.
According to the report, 2022 is the second year that Washington state residents have been victims of a "mega breach," which affects over one million residents. In 2018 a data breach of Equifax, a credit report agency, affected 3.2 million Washington residents. In 2022, a T-Mobile cybersecurity attack affected over 2 million state residents.
How to keep your personal data safe
The attorney general's report makes several policy suggestions for Washington lawmakers to help protect citizens' personal data. These policy changes include a call to pass legislation to protect private health data, after Ferguson announced his intentions to increase privacy protection for reproductive and gender-affirming care data.
The state provides a searchable database of data breach notifications in Washington.
To protect your own personal data and information, the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice website suggests a few tips: