REGION—Released in time for “Data Privacy Day” on Monday, January 28, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in conjunction with CyberScout, note that there were fewer data breaches in 2018 than the year prior, but more consumer records were exposed.

The ITRC is a national non-profit organization created in 1999 to help victims of identity theft and related crimes.

CyberScout is an identity, privacy and data security firm established in 2003.

According to the 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, there were 1,244 data breaches in 2018, most occurring in the business and financial industries.

This total is a 31 percent decrease from 2017's 1,632, the highest-recorded since ITRC started keeping regular reports in 2005.

Despite the decrease in number of breaches, the amount of exposed files with personal information rose 126 percent, from more than 197 million in 2017 to over 446 million last year.

Also noted in the report, there were an additional 1.68 million non-sensitive records exposed, mostly related to email credentials.

Hoping to curtail said leaks as much as possible, “Data Privacy Day” is held each year on January 28 to remind internet users to be conscious of cyber security and the data one presents to the internet.

In preparation for this year's Data Privacy Day, held on Monday with a live presentation titled “A New Era in Privacy” streamed via LinkedIn, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) issued a release noting “Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it.”

The NCSA is a public-private partnership consisting of leaders in cyber security companies working alongside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

NCSA recommends internet uses follow three safeguards for managing their online data:

• “Share with care” – being mindful of what individuals and companies have access to one's pictures, posts, thoughts, ideas and other data and how they plan to use it.

• “Own your online presence” – limit privacy settings on all devices to a degree with which one is comfortable. It is important to note different devices, i.e. phones, tablets, computers, internet browsers etc., have different features available to limit security settings.

• “Lock down your login” – add strength to one's online banking, social media and other accounts with strong authentication tools to support usernames and passwords.

In addition to these recommendations, DHS advises tech users to:

• “Keep a clean machine” – utilize antivirus and anti-malware software to keep one's computer and mobile devices protected.

• “Apply the golden rule online” – treat others kindly in posts as one would wish to be treated in kind.

• “Secure your devices” – bolster mobile device security options with strong password or peripheral authentications which may include facial recognition, finger swipes, etc.

• “Think before you app” – be mindful about from where one's apps are downloaded and what permissions one allows apps to have. “Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location has tremendous value,” states DHS.

More information about staying safe online is available through the ITRC website (www.idtheftcenter.org) or by calling 1-888-400-5530.

Information is also available from the NCSA at www.staysafeonline.org and from the DHS Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency at www.dhs.gov/cisa.

—Information from press releases was used in this story.