Experian Forecasts the Top 5 Data Breach Predictions for 2019

A couple reviewing financial documents in their living room.

Experian released its sixth annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, which includes its top five data breach predictions for 2019. The report addresses new cyber threats to biometrics and gaming, along with susceptible breach targets that include cloud and wireless networks.

The scale of data breaches in 2018 has been staggering. There have been 1,027 breaches reported with 57,667,911 records compromised as Nov. 2, 2018, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

"Hackers have become very nimble at outsmarting protection measures. Cybercriminals always seem to stay a step ahead of new security gates," said Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Data Breach Resolution at Experian. "We use the power of data to help businesses make the right decisions, and we issue our Data Breach Industry Forecast each year to give them a competitive edge. Our predictions look at where hackers may go next to exploit vulnerabilities so companies can safeguard themselves against these future threats."

Five Data Breach Predictions

For consumers, knowing what to do if you become a victim of a data breach can make all the difference in protecting your data and your identity. Here are Experian's five data breach predictions for 2019:

1. Biometric Hacking

Attackers will zero in on biometric hacking and expose vulnerabilities in touch ID sensors, facial recognition, and passcodes. Biometric data has been considered the most secure method of authentication, but it can be stolen or altered, and sensors can be manipulated and spoofed or deteriorate with too much use.

2. Skimming

This is the next frontier for an enterprise-wide attack on a major financial institution's national network, and it could result in millions of lost dollars. Credit card skimming uses hidden devices designed to steal card information and passcodes. Criminals are now going after bank networks, moving beyond attacking individual ATMs by loading malware into entire computer systems.

3. Major Attack on Wireless Carrier

A major wireless carrier will be attacked with a simultaneous effect on both iPhones and Androids, stealing personal information from millions of consumers smartphones and possibly disabling all wireless communications in the United States. Similar to an attack on critical infrastructure, a serious disruption to a wireless network could halt business, government, and more.

4. Cloud Breach

It's a matter of when, not if, a top cloud vendor breach will occur, compromising the sensitive information of major companies. The only question is how long it will take hackers to go to the cloud, affecting the world's largest companies and potentially billions of pieces of data.

5. Gaming

The online gaming community will be an emerging hacker target, with cyber criminals posing as gamers and gaining access to the computers and personal data of trusting players. A cybercriminal can easily pose as a gamer or take over an avatar to infiltrate games and communities, stealing personal and credit card information and valuable game pieces and tokens.

Increasing Identity Theft Risk

Between 2005 and 2017, significant data breaches—the type that affected millions of users—rose from about 200 per year to more than 1,300, according to the ITRC. Billions of pieces of data have been exposed. That has made it easy for cybercriminals to monetize stolen data, which has, in turn, led to an increased risk of identity theft. Protecting consumer data and organizational network infrastructures from potential cyber threats is a day-in and day-out battle for companies. But the time has come for consumers to step up and take control of their digital identity.

"In the future, consumers will need a comprehensive plan and monitoring in place to protect their larger digital identity," said Brian Stack, vice president of dark web intelligence at Experian. "Consumers must be prepared to regain control if they are victims of a multi-vector attack, which means that cyber-criminals want to turn your devices into botnets that can cause even more damage. The ability to respond quickly will be critical in ensuring financial assets are secure and protected from ongoing or future attacks against their digital identity."

How to Protect Your Digital Identity

Protecting your identity online should be a top priority in case you become a victim of a data breach identity theft. Here are some tips to help protect yourself:

  • Do not share your personal information with strangers over the phone, email or even text messages. These type of requests could very well be scams.
  • Receive free credit report monitoring by signing up to receive alerts about your credit activity. A breached company should send you a data breach notification. However, if unusual notices via email or in the mail arrive under a different name, that can be a sign that you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Get a free dark web scan to see if your Social Security number, email or phone number has been compromised. Hackers will sell stolen information on the dark web and Experian offers a dark web scan that looks back to 2006 that includes thousands of sites and millions of data points.
  • Lock your credit to prevent illegal activity or if you see any odd charges being made on your existing accounts. Both freezing and locking your credit file prevents potential lenders from accessing your credit file and is a preventative measure to protect against identity theft.

You can read the full complimentary report with a detailed analysis of the five predictions and what they mean for businesses and consumers here.