MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Cyber security experts are calling the last twelve months “the year of the large scale breach.”

With companies like Target and Home Depot being hacked, leaders in the business and technology communities are teaming up to end cyber security crime.

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On Tuesday, the University of Minnesota held the 4th annual Cyber Security Summit.

More than 350 cyber security leaders from 21 states and seven countries attended.

WCCO’s Kate Raddatz was among them at the summit.

While the summit discussed ways the average consumer could protect themselves, it really took a look at how to improve cyber security both in the U.S. and abroad.

Leaders in technology, business, law and government came together to try to come up with solutions to prevent these major companies from being victims of a data breach, and create a plan of action on how they should respond when even the best security measures aren’t 100 percent secure.

In today’s digital age, it’s no longer if a company will get hit by a cyber-attack, but when.

“We have had increasing numbers of serious data breaches in recent years. Even last year we had a 91 percent increase in targeted campaigns to steal information,” Massoud Amin, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute, said.

A study from the Ponemon Institute reports that 43 percent of companies have experienced a data breach in the past year.

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And 27 percent of companies don’t even have a data breach response plan in place.

“It’s going to require an ongoing conversation because the attacks will continue and will continue to become more sophisticated over time,” Andrew Borene, from Steptoe, said.

And it’s not just major companies being hit.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says more than 2 percent of mid-sized investment advisors in Minnesota have lost client data, more than double the national average.

“People should start thinking about where their data is kept and who the third parties vendors are that house the data,” Borene said.

Amin co-founded the first Cyber Security Summit three years ago.

He says the key for consumers is to be diligent about protecting passwords, invest in the best security software possible and always back up your data.

But most of all – use common sense on unfamiliar sites.

“Use just good judgment of what you’re looking at; what you’re clicking on,” Amin said.

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The Summit runs Tuesday and Wednesday at the Commons Hotel on the U of M campus and is open to the public.

Kate Raddatz