Last Year’s Data Breaches Exposed 4.2 Billion Records, Most from America

January 26, 2017

The United States was the main target of hacker attacks last year, resulting in a record number of data breaches.

According to a report from Risk Based Security, during 2016 there were 4,149 data breaches which resulted in the exposure of 4.2 billion records. Nearly half, or more specifically 47.5%, of the breaches that exposed user data came from the United States. Also, 68.2% of breached records belonged to US citizens.

This does not mean, of course, that this is something that only happens in the United States. It means, on the other hand, that in many regions of the world, such vulnerabilities are not as visible and data breaches aren’t reported as such because they aren’t even detected.

3.2 billion passwords exposed in 2016

Another thing that is particularly interesting in this report is the fact that the number of incidents impacting access credentials declined in 2016 compared to 2015. For instance, in 2015, nearly 50% of data breaches exposed passwords. By comparison, only 38.1% of the 2016 data breaches affected passwords.

When we look at hard numbers, however, we see a different picture. In 2015 the number of passwords impacted was of 151 million, but in 2016 the number skyrocketed to 3.2 billion. This means that while the percentage of data breaches affecting passwords in 2016 was smaller, the hacks themselves affected a lot more people.

Many data breaches were caused by direct hacking – 2213 – exposing a total number of 3.9 billion records. This means that, on average, each breach affected 1.7 million records. The researcher notes that incidents affecting FriendFinder Networks, Myspace and Yahoo alone, which were all classified as hacking incidents, accounted for more than 2.2 billion records.

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