Holiday shoppers will be pleased to hear that reported data breaches in the U.S. retail industry are down 92 percent from last year. But while Americans' credit card numbers appear to be safer, their medical records are under assault like never before, according to IBM Security.
Hackers compromised nearly 100 million health-care records in 2015, IBM Security data show. That amounts to nearly 1 in 3 Americans.
As retail data breaches fall to a four-year low of 5.7 million, compromises in the health-care sector have soared from 7.8 million in 2014 to 99.6 million this year. The health industry outranked computer services by a small margin in terms of the most records compromised in the first 10 months of 2015.
Caleb Barlow, IBM Security vice president, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday the shift in focus is especially troubling due to the nature of health-care information.
"The problem with the health-care record is it's what we call immutable data. It isn't easy to change," he said.
"You can't call somebody up and say, 'Hey, give me a new health-care record.' It's stuck with you for the rest of your life, so this information in the health-care record could be used 20 years from now to establish credit, file a tax return on your behalf, or file a false medical claim."