Recent data from Risk Based Security revealed that the number of data breaches has increased to a staggering 36.1 billion in 2020.
Experts believed the number of data records leaked last year is more than two times higher than in the entire year of 2019 and make up more than half (51%) of all exposed data in the past five years.
The first three quarters of 2020 saw a 332% increase in leaked data records compared to the same period last year when 8.35 billion records were exposed.
Looking at the historical data, leaked data records surged by a whopping 1,453% from 2.33 billion through Q3 in 2016 to 36.1 billion in 2020.
A number of leaked data records already hit an all-time high in the second quarter of this year. However, the three months of Q3 brought in additional 8.43 billion records to the toll.
From Q4 of 2019 to Q1 of 2020, leaked data numbers rose by 24%, from 6.84 billion to 8.45 billion — the most records exposed in any Q1 period over the past five years.
There were 2,935 publicly reported data breaches in the first three quarters of 2020, with the three months of Q3 adding an additional 8.3 billion records.
The report claimed 2020 was already the worst year ever recorded, even before the extra 8.3 billion records exposed in Q3. However, these figures include not only stolen data but also cloud-based misconfigurations that may imperil information but not result in a malicious actor getting hold of it.
Furthermore, the report disclosed the healthcare sector was the most affected by data breaches incidents, amounting to 11.5%
Speaking on this, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the Americas at Tanium, Chris Hallenbeck said there were a number of notable data breaches that took place last year. But the compromise of the Twitter accounts held by several high profile celebrities probably garnered the most headlines.
“While the victim’s and subject matter made it easy click-bait, it offers a valuable lesson for organizations of all sizes – employee education matters. Three teenagers managed to gain access to the accounts of public figures by simply convincing employees at the social media company that they were colleagues who needed access to the customer service portal. While this sounds simple, social engineering is more common – and more successful – than most people realize.”
This alarming rise of social engineering and its increasing sophistication teaches us that employee education and creating a culture of cybersecurity is just as important as any other form of IT hygiene, Hallenbeck says.
Companies need to encourage employees to embrace the idea that they are gatekeepers for corporate information and that they play a tremendous role in keeping it safe, he argues. “Crucial systems and the accounts that access them should be protected with multi-factor authentication. Zero Trust initiatives will play a much bigger role for protecting key systems and data,” Hallenbeck explains. “Longer term, the frequency and sophistication of these attacks is a good reminder that prevention is only half the battle. You need to have visibility and detection capabilities across all of your operations, and especially in the case of ransomware, a way to rapidly shut down or quarantine infected devices. When it comes to ransomware, being able to push “the big red button” quickly can make all the difference.”