Two million Massachusetts citizens affected by data breaches since January 2010

The attorney general’s office has received 1,166 data breach notices since January 2010, including 480 between January and August of 2011. About 2.1 million residents were affected by these breaches, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

One-quarter of the reported data breach incidents involved deliberate hacking of computer systems; 23% involved accidental sharing of data with unauthorized people. Personal information was also lost through theft or loss of laptop computers and paper documents.

The largest breach took place at South Shore Hospital in July 2010, when records on 800,000 patients, staff, volunteers, and vendors were lost when they were transferred to a contractor for destruction.

In addition, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced in May 2011 that personal information on up to 210,000 unemployed residents may have been compromised when a virus infected 1,500 of the agency’s computers.

The data breach statistics are compiled in accordance with a 2007 Massachusetts law, which requires all companies doing business in Massachusetts to inform consumers and state regulators about security breaches that might result in identity theft.

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