‘Staggeringly high number’ of data breaches in Washington this year with 4 million people hit

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Cyber criminals attacking companies and exposing customer’s personal continues at an alarming rate. Over the past year, 4 million Washingtonians have received a notice saying a company they did business with had a data breach.

The total is less than last year, but it lands as the third highest total ever.

“So, the good news is the numbers are overall a little bit down from the previous year,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “The bad news, of course, is even though the numbers are a little bit down, it’s still such a large, staggeringly high number of data breaches that we see that impacts so many Washingtonians.”

“That’s obviously of great concern to us,” he added.

In AG’s annual data breach report it says there were 133 breaches last year and in 64% of them social security numbers were compromised.

So as an example, individual tax information can be utilized by these hackers to profit from you and to scam you or certain combinations of information,” Ferguson said. “They put that together to access information they shouldn’t have.”

But the most pressing news comes about the cyber security incident from this week at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Some patients told us they received ransom notices this asking for $50 to remove their data from the scammers’ lists.

Ferguson said as of Wednesday morning, his office had not received the mandatory notification from Hutch. By law, it has 30 days to do so.

We anticipate hearing from them very soon,” he shared.

Typically, after the notification is received the AG’s office can begin its work.