2016 Data Breaches Up 4.7% Year Over Year

The latest count from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) indicates that there has been a total of 155 data breaches recorded through March 15, 2016, and that more than 4.3 million records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. The total number of records increased only modestly compared with the prior week, but there remain several acknowledged breaches for which no numbers have yet been published.

One of these is the email phishing scam that hit disk-drive maker Seagate earlier this month. The company has said only that the breach involved several thousand employee tax records (W-2 forms), but fewer than 10,000 “by a good amount.” Brian Krebs, at Krebs on Security, noted:

[F]raudsters who perpetrate tax refund fraud prize W-2 information because it contains virtually all of the data one would need to fraudulently file someone’s taxes and request a large refund in their name. Indeed, scam artists involved in refund fraud stole W-2 information on more than 330,000 people last year directly from the Web site of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The total number of breaches in 2015 came in at 781, just two shy of the record 783 breaches that ITRC tracked in 2014. The 155 data breaches reported so far for 2016 is 4.7% higher than the number reported for the same period last year. A total of more than 169 million records were exposed in 2015.

Here’s a rundown of the ITRC report for last week:

  • The business sector accounts for the largest number of the total breaches so far this year, nearly 125,000 exposed records in 71 incidents. That represents 45.8% of the incidents and 2.9% of the exposed records.
  • The medical/health care sector has posted 34.2% (53) of data breaches to date this year. The number of records exposed in these breaches totaled more than 3.77 million, or nearly 88% of the total so far in 2016.
  • The number of banking/credit/financial breaches totals four for the year to date and involves more than 4,000 records, some 2.6% of the total number of breaches and 0.1% of the records exposed.
  • The government/military sector has suffered nine data breaches so far this year, representing about 2.4% of the total number of records exposed and 5.8% of the incidents. More than 103,000 records have been compromised in the government/military sector to date in 2016.
  • The educational sector has seen 18 data breaches in 2016. The sector accounts for 11.6% of all breaches for the year and more than 300,000 exposed records, about 7% of the total so far this year.

Since beginning to track data breaches in 2005, ITRC had counted 5,810 breaches through December 2015, involving nearly 848 million records.

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