Total affected… who’s counting?

There has been some discussion about the recent loss of a “memory stick” with the personal details of inmates in Great Britain. As the story above shows, it appears that about 84,000 prisoners may have been affected by this breach… or is that 94,000? Or… is that 130,000? Who knows… as bad as the British government apparently is about keeping anyone’s (even prisoners) personal information safe, the media is apparently equally as bad about doing that “numbers thing”.

For now, DataLossDB has this particular breach listed as 94,000 total records affected until more conclusive (coherent?) data has been obtained, but at least one question should be asked: does the total number of people affected in ANY data breach really matter? It seems that breaches with a large number of people and/or records affected get more media attention, especially when a lot of zeros and commas are in the headline, but is that really any indication of the magnitude of the real problem at hand? Now that the total number of *records* (not people) exposed is into the hundreds of millions, does the general public really think about the difference between, say, 84,000 and 94,000 records? At this point, and after years of media reports of large data breaches (i.e. TJX), are we desensitized to data breaches that affect less than, say, 10,000 people and/or records?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Just rambling on a Saturday morning and throwing things out for thought and discussion…

And to lighten things up a bit, maybe Noah can help us out…

RIGHT. What’s a cubit?

Posted by Lyger.

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