CHICAGO (WLS) -- 2023 was a record-breaking year for data compromises in the U.S., according to a new report by the Identity Theft Resource Center.
There were more than 3,200 instances of data compromises. On Data Privacy Day Jan. 28, two experts joined ABC7 to speak on protecting your personal information.
The theme for this year is to take control of your data. But given how much our personal information is tied to our phones, along with the apps and websites we use, is it possible?
Professor Bill Kresse, from Governor's State University, is known as "Professor Fraud."
"The good news is those big data breaches that used to be in the news like every month, those seem to have calmed down," Kresse said. "The data security people have gotten really good at protecting the big servers. It's the individual that's really getting hit. And too many people rely on their phones and they put their passwords in it and we're seeing cases where people are getting, you know, held up at gunpoint. They don't want your wallet, they don't want your watch, they want your phone and the passcode to get into it. And once they have that, they have the keys to the kingdom."
With your phone, thieves are able to access your bank accounts, investment accounts and your credit cards.
Kresse advised people against storing their passwords on their phones.
"That is the constant struggle here, between the convenience that these provide you and your privacy and your security, both your privacy and your financial security," Kresse said.
When it comes to finances, more and more people are using cash payment apps, such as Venmo, Zelle and PayPal. These services now handle an estimated one trillion dollars in payments.
The District Attorney in Manhattan, New York has sounded the alarm, saying the apps can be breeding grounds for theft.
Andrew Hoog is the co-founder of NowSecure, a Chicago-based mobile app security and privacy company. He was recently part of an I-Team report on data privacy.
ABC7 asked if apps or websites are more secure in protecting your information.
"I actually think applications have the ability to be more secure," Hoog said. "That technology is newer. It was built on the grounds up of everything we've learned in the past. But there's a challenge. The challenge is, we have a lot more sensitive data because of all those sensors. It knows where you're at, it's always located with you, it has access to your photos. You don't normally have that on your computer. So the challenge we have is, we have a more secure foundation, but there's access to a lot more private information."
Hoog said there's two things that need to happen.
"Consumers, of course, need to take privacy first and foremost and take steps to protect their information," Hoog said. "But the app developers have a real responsibility to make sure that they're testing these applications and making sure that they're safe and secure for their customers."