More Than 4 Billion Records Leaked in 2016 at an Increase of 566 Percent, According to New IBM Security Study

Did it seem like data breaches were in the news more than ever last year? Turns out it wasn’t just your imagination.

More than 4 billion records were leaked worldwide in 2016, according to a report just released from IBM Security.

That’s a staggering increase of 566 percent.

According to a press release about the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2016, “These leaked records include data cybercriminals have traditionally targeted like credit cards, passwords and personal health information, but IBM X-Force also noted a shift in cybercriminal strategies. In 2016, a number of significant breaches related to unstructured data such as email archives, business documents, intellectual property and source code were also compromised.”

The report was compiled from information from more than 8,000 monitored security clients in 100 countries.

As many companies and organizations found out firsthand, ransomware reached historic highs.

IBM released a study last year that found 70 percent of businesses who were attacked via ransomware paid over $10,000 to regain access to business data and systems. Considering the FBI estimated cybercriminals made over $200 million in the first three months of 2016 alone using ransomware, they could have made off with $1 billion using malware last year.

You might be asking, how was the malware delivered?

Via malicious attachments in spam emails. According to the study, there was a 400 percent increase in spam year over year, and around 44 percent of spam contained malicious attachments.

Remember, when in doubt, don’t let your curiosity get the best of you: DON’T CLICK.

Another notable finding from the report is while healthcare was the most attacked industry in 2015, the financial services industry was the main target in 2016, though it did have a lower success rate since it came in at No. 3 for compromised records.


IBM attributes this to the industry’s “continued investment in sustained security practices.”

Information & communication services companies had the highest number of records leaked and number of breaches, at 3.4 billion records and 85 incidents.

Government came in second, with 398 million records leaked in 39 breaches.  

As this ZDNet story points out, Yahoo’s massive data breach is “partially to blame for the 566 percent year-on-year increase.”


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