kamala harris, california, district attorney, privacy, data security, data breaches,

Photo: Cameron Scott, 2012

Two and a half million Californians had personal information put at risk in 131 electronic data breaches in 2012, and 1.4 million of them would have been protected if companies had encrypted data when moving or sending the data out of the company’s network, according to a report form the state attorney general, Kamala Harris.

Harris said her office would, moving forward, make it an enforcement priority to investigate breaches that involve unencrypted personal information.

“Data breaches are a serious threat to individuals’ privacy, finances and even personal security. Companies and government agencies must do more to protect people by protecting data,” said Harris in a statement.

The retail industry experienced most data breaches in 2012, accounting for 26 percent of the total reported breaches. Breaches at financial and insurance companies accounted 23 percent of the total. More than half of the breaches involved Social Security numbers.

American Express, Discover, the L.A. Health Plan and Yolo Federal Credit Union all had their systems breached several times or over a period of several days.