New Macy's Breach Among 2008's List, Which Is Already Larger Than 2007

The number of data breaches reported as of Aug. 22 of this year has already surpassed the total number in all of 2007, including a new one from Macy's impacting some 4,100 customers.

With four months still remaining until the end of the year, the 449 breaches reported in the Identity Theft Resource Center's list for 2008 exceeds 2007's total of 446.

The Macy's incident was sparked by "a massive security breach at a Visa processing center in England," said the Identity Theft Resource Center report. The 4,100 customers who owned a Macy's Visa credit card were notified by the retailer after "thieves got hold of Visa account numbers and started making unauthorized charges, mainly at gas stations," the report said.

The report listed breaches in five categories—business, financial/credit, educational, governmental/military and healthcare. Businesses have registered the most breaches so far this year, reporting 167 intrusions, or 37 percent of the total, according to the report. The report also said that businesses have compromised some 5.5 million records since the start of 2008.

The ITRC said the actual number of breaches is probably higher, due to underreporting and because some breaches that affected multiple businesses were listed as single events.

"It should be noted that the ITRC does not place an inordinate weight on the count of records exposed," the report stated. "While the ITRC breach list reflects compromised records of more than 22 million, in more than 40 percent of breach events, the number of records exposed is not reported or fully disclosed."