Data Breach Statistics: An Alarming Increase in Risk

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Data breaches are a serious issue that affects millions of people each year. In the United States alone, more than 1 billion records were exposed in 2019. This number has been steadily increasing over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down.

The global data breach statistics are just as alarming. Globally, an estimated 30,000 websites are hacked every day, and 64% of companies have experienced some kind of cyber attack. In 2021 alone, there were 22 billion breached records reported around the world. Ransomware cases also grew by 92.7%, indicating that malicious actors are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their attacks.

It’s clear that data breaches pose a real threat to businesses and individuals alike, and it’s important to understand how these numbers have been growing over time. In the third quarter of 2022 alone, data breaches rose by 70% globally, showing that attackers continue to find new ways to gain access to confidential information.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of a data breach, it’s important to take steps to secure your online accounts and devices. Make sure your passwords are strong and unique for each account you use online, use two-factor authentication whenever possible, keep your software up-to-date with the latest patches and security updates, and be mindful about what kind of personal information you share online or through email attachments. Taking these steps can help protect you from becoming another statistic in this growing problem.

Data Breach Statistics: An Alarming Increase in Risk 1

Number of Data Breaches Annually

Each year, there are an increasing number of data breaches and compromises occur in the U.S. In 2016, there were 1,099 reported data breaches that exposed 36.6 million records. In 2017, this number increased to 1,506 breaches and 198 million records exposed. 2018 saw another increase with 1,175 breaches and 471.23 million compromised records. 2019 marked yet another increase with 1,279 breaches and 164.68 million records exposed. This shows a clear trend of increasing data breach activity occurring in the U.S., with no signs of slowing down in the near future.

The Frequency of Data Breaches Every Day

Every day, millions of data breaches occur around the world. According to recent data, there were an estimated 22 billion breached records in 2021 alone. This number is expected to increase further in the coming years as cyber attackers become more sophisticated and successful in their attacks. On average, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 websites are hacked every day; however, this number could be much higher due to the vast number of unreported incidents and those which go unnoticed. As such, companies must remain vigilant in their efforts to protect against cyber attacks by implementing strong security measures and regularly updating their systems to reduce the risk of data breaches occurring.

The Number One Cause of Security Breaches

The #1 cause of security breaches is human error. This can include failing to follow cybersecurity best practices, such as using strong passwords, keeping software up to date and patching any known vulnerabilities, or not training employees in cyber awareness. Additionally, physical theft of sensitive devices can lead to security breaches, as stolen devices may contain confidential data that could be used maliciously if accessed by an unauthorized user. Finally, poor access control and inadequate network security measures can open the door for malicious actors who are looking for ways to gain access to confidential data or systems.

Frequency of Data Breaches in the United States

Data breaches are becoming increasingly common in the US. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), a record-breaking 1862 data breaches occurred in 2021, representing a 68% increase from the previous year. This number is especially concerning given that data breaches have been steadily increasing since 2017 when 1506 breaches were reported. The types of organizations most affected by data breaches include healthcare and medical, government and military, and business entities. These organizations are all vulnerable to cyberattacks, making them attractive targets for hackers. As technology continues to evolve and become more integrated into everyday life, individuals and businesses must remain vigilant in protecting their sensitive data from malicious actors.

Common Causes of Data Breaches

The four most common causes of data breaches are old, unpatched security vulnerabilities, human error, malware, and insider misuse.

Old, unpatched security vulnerabilities occur when a system is not kept up to date with the latest security patches and updates. This makes it easier for malicious actors to exploit known weaknesses in the system, allowing them to access sensitive data.

Human error is another major cause of data breaches. This can include anything from a user logging into an insecure website or accidentally sharing confidential information with someone outside the organization.

Malware is malicious software designed to exploit vulnerable networks and systems for the purpose of stealing data or inflicting damage. Malware can be spread through email attachments, links in websites, or even via text messages from compromised accounts.

Finally, insider misuse occurs when an employee or contractor of a company intentionally misuses their access privileges to steal confidential data or other assets. It can also refer to employees who take advantage of their privileged positions by sharing confidential information without permission.

The Largest Source of Data Breaches

The largest source of data breaches is criminal hacking. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to exploit computer systems or networks, and they use a range of different techniques to do so. These include phishing scams, password attacks, SQL injections, malware infections, and DNS spoofing. Each of these methods can have devastating consequences for organizations and individuals if their data is exposed or stolen. It’s essential that organizations regularly review their security measures to guard against these threats and ensure their data remains safe.

The Most Common Method of Data Breach

The most common method of a data breach is via stolen or weak credentials. This occurs when malicious actors gain access to an individual’s username and password combination, which grants them access to the user’s network. Once inside the network, attackers can steal confidential information, including personal data such as financial or health records, or intellectual property like trade secrets. To prevent this type of attack, organizations must implement robust security measures, including strong encryption technology, two-factor authentication protocols, and regular monitoring of user accounts for any suspicious activity. Additionally, users should also be vigilant in protecting their credentials by never sharing them with anyone and regularly changing their passwords.

Types of Data Breaches

The three main types of data breaches are:

1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks: XSS attacks involve malicious code being injected into a website or web application by an attacker. This code can then be used to steal user information, gain unauthorized access to sensitive systems, or even inject malicious code that can be executed on the victim’s computer.

2. SQL Injection Attacks: SQL injection attacks involve inserting malicious code into a database in order to gain access to sensitive information or execute commands without authorization. This type of attack is often used to bypass authentication and authorization processes, allowing an attacker to gain unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data.

3. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks: MITM attacks occur when an attacker is able to intercept traffic between two parties in order to gain control over the communication channel, allowing them access to any information exchanged between the two parties. This type of attack can be used for various malicious activities such as eavesdropping, stealing credentials and data, or even manipulating transactions between two parties.

Each of these types of data breach can have serious consequences for organizations if not mitigated properly, so it is important for businesses to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect their systems from potential attacks.


Overall, data breach statistics paint a worrying picture of the state of cybersecurity. The number of data breaches and records exposed has been steadily increasing over the past five years, with 2021 seeing the highest number of breached records to date. Cyber attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and their tactics are evolving, resulting in an increase in ransomware cases. This demonstrates how essential it is for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity measures and ensure they have adequate protection in place to minimize the risk of a data breach.

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James Walker

James Walker has a deep passion for technology and is our in-house enthusiastic editor. He graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and loves to test the latest gadgets and play with older software (something we’re still trying to figure out about himself). Hailing from Iowa, United States, James loves cats and is an avid hiker in his free time.