POST Online Media Lite Edition


Huge growth: 37 billion data records leaked in 2020

Christian Fernsby |
The year 2020 was challenging for the world not only because of the global pandemic but also due to a wide array of cybersecurity challenges we faced.

Article continues below

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team based on the 2020 Year End Data Breach QuickView Report by Risk Based Security, the number of leaked data records worldwide hit a whopping 37 billion in 2020. It is a 140% increase from 15 billion records in 2019.

The majority — 82% or over 30 billion of data records — were compromised in only five major breach incidents. All of them were a result of misconfigured databases or services.

The most commonly exposed type of data were names, leaked in 46% of data breaches last year. Next up are email addresses, which were compromised in 32% of incidents.

While leaked records reached never-before-seen highs in 2020, the number of actual data breaches shrank by 48%. It went down from 7,553 breaches in 2019 to 3,932 in 2020.

In total, 77% of data breaches last year were caused by outside actors, 16% by insider threats, while the rest is unknown. What is more, 676 breaches last year included ransomware as an attack element — a 100% rise compared to 2019.

The year 2020 posed many cybersecurity challenges for companies around the world. However, some sectors were affected more than the others.

Last year was certainly hard on the healthcare industry, which dealt with more data breaches than any other sector. In 2020, the healthcare industry faced 484 hacks, which account for 12% of all last year’s breaches.

The information sector was also highly targeted. It suffered 429 hacks, which made up 11% of data breaches last year.

Rounding out the top three industries in terms of data breaches last year is the finance and insurance sector. In 2020, the industry faced 382 hacks — 10% of last year’s breaches.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape: “All in all, the year 2020 has taught us that it is hard to predict what the future holds for cybersecurity. In a single year, breached data files more than doubled, reaching record-high numbers, as did the number of hacks that included a ransomware component.

However, there were fewer actual data breaches reported. It suggests that data breaches are growing in severity, with fewer incidents exposing more personal information than ever before.”

What to read next

Highlights: February 23, 2015 - February 28, 2015
Highlights: October 26 - October 31, 2015
Highlights: May 3 - May 9, 2015