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Online Trust Alliance Releases 2013 Data Protection and Breach Readiness Guide -- 242.6 Million Records Breached Last Year

Public & Private Leaders Join OTA in Sharing Best Business Practices to Increase Privacy Controls, Secure Data and Enhance Online Trust

SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/28/13 -- Recognizing the importance of privacy and data protection, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, today announced a series of town hall meetings and the release of the OTA 2013 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide in recognition of Data Privacy Day (DPD).

OTA's analysis of more than 1,470 data loss incidents worldwide tracked by the Open Security Foundation reveals that an astounding 242.6 million records were exposed in 2012, yet more than 97% of the incidents could have been avoided by implementing simple steps and following best practices and internal controls. While businesses typically focus on external threats, 26% of the reported breaches were the result of employee threats or accidental disclosures, indicating a need for more internal controls and employee training.

"I believe Americans have a fundamental right to privacy: to know what information is being collected about them and to be able to control whether or not that information can be shared with third parties," said U.S. Sen. Al Franken. "As the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, it's my job to make sure that our nation's laws keep pace with technology. I'm proud to call the Online Trust Alliance a valuable ally, because I've seen how effectively they work within the business community to try to make sure consumers can trust the companies they interact with."

"For many businesses, data is an increasingly vital asset," said Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen. "Companies need to protect their customers' personal information from theft that can hurt customers and harm the business's reputation. Because breaches may still occur even in the most security-conscious companies, however, it is also critical to have a plan for responding to data breaches before they happen. Putting together a response plan now may help reduce the impact of a data breach on a business and its customers later."

As society continues to become tethered to mobile devices which collect greater amounts of data including unique identifiers and location data, users are mostly unaware of what data is being collected, how it is being used and who has access to it. Increasingly data incidents and identity theft are occurring through accidental device loss and increased targeting by cybercriminals.

"As citizens increasingly rely on the Internet for their personal and business lives, businesses are looking to implement safeguards to enhance the protection of their data from abuse and potential identity theft," said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "Working together, we can assist businesses and implement voluntary best practices to help protect consumers from harm while holding cybercriminals accountable. The efforts outlined by OTA are important steps towards reaching this goal."

The recovery costs to businesses as a result of a breach are staggering at more than $8 billion in 2012. The Town Hall meetings and Guide provide a framework that addresses issues that can help businesses protect their data and prepare for a data loss incident.

"Organizations of all sizes and in both the public and private sectors have an obligation to make privacy and data protection part of their value proposition. Being stewards of data and having a comprehensive data breach plan is the responsibility of every executive, who otherwise puts consumers, employees, companies and shareholders at an unacceptable risk," said Craig Spiezle, Executive Director and President, Online Trust Alliance.

The OTA 2013 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide is a comprehensive guide to help businesses understand the evolving privacy landscape, to enhance data security and to develop data loss incident plans. The guide is available at: https://otalliance.org/breach.html

The OTA's Data Privacy Day Town Hall meetings are being held on January 29 in New York City and on January 30 in Seattle, with a keynote by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The Town Halls are sponsored in part by PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., Pitney Bowes, Intersections Inc., and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Speakers also include representatives from the FTC, FBI, U.S. Secret Service and the offices of both state's Attorneys General. To learn more about these events or to register, please visit: https://otalliance.org/dpd.html

About The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) https://otalliance.org
OTA is a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, while promoting innovation and the vitality of the Internet. OTA's goal is to help educate businesses, policy makers and stakeholders while developing and advancing best practices and tools to enhance the protection of users' security, privacy and identity. OTA supports collaborative public-private partnerships, benchmark reporting, meaningful self-regulation and data stewardship. Follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/otalliance.

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Joyce Carcaise
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