2013 could go down in history as the Year of the Hack, or the Year of the Counter-Attack. The choice is up to us.
Not only are businesses and the government finally taking measures to stop identity theft, consumers are waking up as well.
It doesn't matter if you're the Fortune 500 banker cashing a hefty check or the teller at the front desk: everyone's personal information is valuable. The risks to businesses and major companies, even giants like Apple and Google, are pretty well-known by now. But the threat of a breach looms over everybody, regardless of occupation.
The Federal Trade Commission recently revealed that identity theft was the number one consumer concern of 2012. There were more complaints over different types of identity theft than things like fraudulent lenders and fixed gas prices. That's no fluke: it's the sign of a major threat.
Out of the millions of total reports the FTC received, identity theft complaints added up to around 20 percent. Some of the worst states to have been hit were California, Georgia, and poor Florida, which has seen astronomical amounts of particularly ugly tax fraud in recent years.
Part of this is the nature of the crime. If a company that a user trusts suffers a breach, even temporarily, that soils the entire relationship with the patrons they're trying to reach. One broken step on the ladder is all it takes to start a big fall. No wonder we're all taking more notice.
This may not sound like good news, but it is. Stats like this mean we're starting to take this crime more seriously. It is no time to let your guard down, but let's hope that this swell of unrest starts the backlash against digital saboteurs. There's never been a better time to consult an identity theft expert on ways to fortify yours and your company's secrets.
John Sileo is an identity theft expert and keynote speaker on privacy, cyber security and reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.