New Report: 2016 Saw Data Breach Increase of 40 Percent

In 2016, the number of reported data breaches numbered 1,093 — 40 percent more than the year before. Last year’s number marked an all-time record, according to a report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center.

The Identity Theft Resource Center tracks the number of U.S. breaches.

In 2015, there were 780 reported. The ITRC can’t say for certain if this means there were more data breaches, or if they’re just getting reported more. ITRC has gotten more aggressive when it comes to tracking, contacting more than a dozen states’ attorney general offices and submitting Freedom of Information Act requests.

“For the past 10 years, the ITRC has been aware of the under-reporting of data breach incidents on the national level and the need for more state or federal agencies to make breach notifications more publicly available,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of ITRC, in a press release about the new report. “This year we have seen a number of states take this step by making data breach notifications public on their websites.”

Top takeaways from the report, include:

  • The business sector topped the list in data breach incidents reported (45.2 percent of overall breaches), followed by healthcare/medical industry (34.5 percent), education (9 percent), government/military (6.6 percent) and banking/financial sector (4.8 percent).
  • Hacking/phishing/skimming attacks were the leading cause (55.5 percent), which is a 17.7 percent increase over 2015’s numbers.
  • Next up, accidental email/internet exposure was the second most common type of breach (9.2 percent).
  • Just over half of the breaches involved Social Security numbers and credit card/debit card numbers.

That last nugget bears repeating: More than half of the breaches reported by the ITRC included Social Security numbers.

“This trend, which has accelerated since 2015 — when just four breaches exposed over 120 million Social Security numbers to state-sponsored hackers and cyber criminals — represents the point of no return for millions of Americans. While credit and debit card numbers can be changed, SSNs cannot. Therefore, monitoring and damage control become even more important than ever before,” according to the press release


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