The Breach Level Index of Gemalto has revealed that 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records being compromised worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015.
Identity theft was the leading type of data breach in 2016, accounting for 59% of all data breaches. In addition, 52% of the data breaches in 2016 did not disclose the number of compromised records at the time they were reported.
The Breach Level Index is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple dimensions, including 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. By assigning a severity score to each breach, the Breach Level Index provides a comparative list of breaches, distinguishing data breaches that are a not serious versus those that are truly impactful (scores run 1-10).
According to the Breach Level Index, more than 7 billion data records have been exposed since 2013 when the index began benchmarking publicly disclosed data breaches. Breaking it down that is over 3 million records compromised every day or roughly 44 records every second.
Last year, the account access based attack on AdultFriend Finder exposing 400 million records scored a 10 in terms of severity on the Breach Level Index. Other notable breaches in 2016 included Fling (BLI: 9.8), Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) (BLI: 9.8), 17 Media (BLI: 9.7) and Dailymotion (BLI: 9.6). In fact the top 10 breaches in terms of severity accounted for over half of all compromised records. In 2016, Yahoo! reported two major data breaches involving 1.5 billion user accounts, but are not accounted for in the BLI’s 2016 numbers since they occurred in 2013 and 2014.
“The Breach Level Index highlights four major cybercriminal trends over the past year. Hackers are casting a wider net and are using easily-attainable account and identity information as a starting point for high value targets,” said Jason Hart, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Data Protection at Gemalto.
“Clearly, fraudsters are also shifting from attacks targeted at financial organizations to infiltrating large data bases such as entertainment and social media sites. Lastly, fraudsters have been using encryption to make breached data unreadable, then hold it for ransom and decrypting once they are paid.”
Data Breaches by Type
In 2016, identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 59% of all data breaches, up by 5% from 2015. The second most prevalent type of breach in 2016 is account access based breaches.
While the incidence of this type of data breach decreased by 3%, it made up 54 % of all breached records, which is an increase of 336% from the previous year. This highlights the cybercriminal trend from financial information attacks to bigger databases with large volumes of personally identifiable information.
Another notable data point is the nuisance category with an increase of 102% accounting for 18% of all breached records up 1474% since 2015.