LOS ANGELES — The big data breaches make headlines — such as the millions of consumers whose financial secrets were exposed by the Target Corp. hack and the Heartbleed software bug.
But for every high-profile case, there are dozens of threats to confidential data held by everyday enterprises: wine shops, dentist offices, colleges, gay and lesbian community centers, makers of dog tags, defense electronics, sports gear.
The examples are culled from a list of breaches maintained by the California attorney general. They expose an underside of U.S. commerce populated not only by omnipresent hackers, but by thieves who snatch office computers, disgruntled vendors who use purloined data to slander businesses and poach employees, and ex-employees who turn traitor for profit.
The consequences can be costly, as 80sTees.com of Pennsylvania discovered when someone believed to be a former high-ranking employee accessed the identities of customers all over the country. The retro shirt seller stopped accepting credit cards for four months, launched a new website and blocked all employees from accessing clients’ financial information.
Many small firms know little or nothing about cybersecurity, according to the National Small Business Association, despite the prevalence of data thefts. The trade group reported that 44 percent of respondents to a survey last year had been victims of at least one cyberattack, with an average $8,699.48 cost for each breach.