Privacy & Security 3 min. read

First half of 2018 saw record number of data breaches — and it’s only getting worse

First half of 2018 saw record number of data breaches — and it’s only getting worse

There seems to be an endless amount of stories surfacing about various companies dealing with a data breach. But just how bad is the problem? As it turns out, it’s far worse than we thought—and it’s only going to get worse.

Gemalto’s Breach Level Index has just been released, documenting the number of data breaches in the first six months of 2018. In this time, it shows that more than 4.5 billion data records were breached. That equates to about 291 breached records every second.

This is the highest number of data breaches in any six-month period…ever…and it highlights an especially disturbing trend.

The numbers are growing — a lot

When we compare the numbers from the first half of 2018 to those from 2015, we can see an increase of a whopping 1,751 percent. This is alarming enough, but the really scary data is when we look at the number of records that are breached per incident. In 2015, it was an average of 276,936 per incident. Now, in 2018, it has grown to 4.8 million per incident — meaning that for each data breach that takes place, there are FAR more people affected.

Gemalto has a risk scoring system that it uses to show the public how worrying this is. If a breach is scored as a “9” or “10,” it is considered to be “catastrophic.” In only the first six months of 2018, there were four data breaches that were classified as “catastrophic,” — and not just millions, but billions of people were affected.

Data breach: The attack of malicious outsiders

One of the biggest data breaches of 2018 (so far) was the Under Armour breach. More than 150 million accounts were affected by a “malicious outsider” (basically, someone that isn’t “inside” the company. It’s much harder for a malicious outsider to gain access to a system, so they usually go after the “insiders” via phishing attacks so they can effectively breach the system and pose as insiders themselves).

In fact, more than 50 percent of all data breaches are done by “malicious outsiders,” and this number is rising, too, as cybercriminals become more sophisticated. 

Human error

Another huge data breach in the first part of 2018 affected the data broker, Exactis, which lost more than 340 million records (a number that is practically the same size as the entire U.S. population). Worst of all, it was human error that caused it.

If you have humans working for you, it’s highly likely that at some point human error will come into play, and this is exactly what happened in many of these cases. The collateral damage, too, is extremely high, with millions—sometimes billions—of records being exposed.

Sector information

There are also a handful of data breaches that come down to sector information. For instance, the social media sector alone lost more than 2 billion records, and the government sector lost more than a quarter of its records.

The sector with the largest number of data breach incidents, however, was healthcare. In the first quarter of 2018, for instance, there were more than 250 incidents in the healthcare industry alone. This far outpaced other industries. However, when you look at the annual totals, the healthcare industry makes up less than 1 percent of the total of all data breaches so far.

The scary truth is that any company is a target for cybercriminals, and often it’s the small businesses who are most vulnerable (those who think they’re too tiny to be a target and so have the weakest infrastructure).

It’s not just businesses who are at risk, either. Consumers are facing more ransomware attacks than ever before along with a huge increase in online scams and phishing attacks. And as the data shows, the rate at which this is getting worse is frankly alarming.

It’s no wonder, then, that Warren Buffet called cybersecurity the “number one problem with mankind,” potentially even more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

If that doesn’t make you shudder, nothing will.

So make sure you do what you can to protect your personal data by installing Hotspot Shield for free on both your mobile and desktop device. Hotspot Shield protects you from cybercrime, harmful malware, and prevents people from tracking your every online move.

Download Hotspot Shield for FREE

Get the latest stories and tips from Hotspot Shield in your inbox