Almost 1.4 billion data records ‘compromised in 2016’

Almost 1.4 billion data records ‘compromised in 2016’ [Image: matejmo via iStock]

A total of 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records being compromised worldwide during 2016, according to new research by security company Gemalto.

This was an increase of 86 per cent compared to 2015, Gemalto’s Breach Level Index revealed.

The Breach Level Index is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple dimensions. These include the number of records compromised, the type of data, the source of the breach, how the data was used, and whether or not the data was encrypted.

Gemalto explained that by assigning a severity score to each breach, the Breach Level Index provides a comparative list of breaches, distinguishing data breaches that are comparatively not serious versus those that are truly impactful (scores run 1-10).

According to the Breach Level Index, more than seven billion data records have been exposed since 2013 when the index began benchmarking publicly disclosed data breaches. That works out to over three million records compromised every day, roughly 44 records every second.

In 2016, identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 59 per cent of all data breaches, up by five per cent from 2015. The second most prevalent type of breach in 2016 was account access-based breaches. While the incidence of this type of data breach decreased by three per cent, it made up 54 per cent of all breached records, which is an increase of 336 per cent from the previous year.

Jason Hart, vice-president and chief technology officer for data protection at Gemalto, said: “Hackers are casting a wider net and are using easily attainable account and identity information as a starting point for high-value targets.”

He added that “fraudsters have been using encryption to make breached data unreadable, then hold it for ransom and decrypting once they are paid”.

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