The challenge for companies in keeping their customer data secure has been laid bare with new figures showing there was a 140% increase in personal data being leaked last year, reaching a staggering 37 billion records – equivalent to nearly 5 records for every human on the planet.
According to the data analysed by Atlas VPN, based on the 2020 Year End Data Breach QuickView Report by Risk Based Security, the majority of records – 82% or over 30 billion – were compromised in only five major breach incidents. All of them were a result of misconfigured databases or services.
The most commonly exposed type of data were names, leaked in 46% of data breaches last year, with email addresses second on 32% of incidents.
While leaked records reached never-before-seen highs in 2020, the number of actual data breaches shrank by 48%; down from 7,553 breaches in 2019 to 3,932 in 2020, showing that incidents are growing in severity.
In total, 77% of data breaches last year were caused by outside actors, 16% by insider threats, while the rest is unknown. Some 676 breaches last year included ransomware as an attack element — a 100% rise compared to 2019.
The year 2020 posed many cybersecurity challenges for companies around the world but some sectors were affected more than the others.
The report shows that last year was particularly hard on the healthcare industry, which dealt with more data breaches than any other sector. In 2020, the healthcare industry faced 484 hacks, which account for 12% of all last year’s breaches.
The information sector was also highly targeted. It suffered 429 hacks, which made up 11% of data breaches last year.
Rounding out the top three industries in terms of data breaches last year is the finance and insurance sector. In 2020, the industry faced 382 hacks — 10% of last year’s breaches.
Atlas VPN chief operating officer Rachel Welch said: “2020 has taught us that it is hard to predict what the future holds for cybersecurity. In a single year, breached data files more than doubled, reaching record-high numbers, as did the number of hacks that included a ransomware component.
“However, there were fewer actual data breaches reported. It suggests that data breaches are growing in severity, with fewer incidents exposing more personal information than ever before.”
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