DNC's Hacked Email Server Tops List of New Data Breaches

It’s hard to say exactly where the theft of some 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) fits into the total number of 538 data breaches so far recorded in 2016. What we can say is that it probably has gotten more news coverage than any other breach this year.

The latest data breach count from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that there have been 538 data breaches recorded this year through July 19, 2016, and that nearly 13 million records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. The total number of reported breaches increased by 16 since ITRC’s last report.

The number of breaches in 2015 totaled 781, just two shy of the record 783 breaches that ITRC tracked in 2014. The 538 data breaches reported so far for 2016 are nearly 16% more than the number reported (465) for the same period last year. A total of more than 169 million records were exposed in 2015.

The release of the DNC email trove last weekend has already cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job as DNC chair on the day before the party’s national convention begins in Philadelphia. It is the international implications of the breach, though, that are most riveting. Has Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to interfere with the coming U.S. elections on behalf of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump? Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager said on Sunday that “experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, [and are] releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”

The Trump campaign has denied the charge, of course, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort told CNBC that “obviously we don’t know who’s behind the leaks” and sought to tie the leak to Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State.

For sheer numbers of exposed records, however, 20,000 emails is not by itself a headline grabber. The DNC breach is not included in this week’s report.

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

  • The government/military sector retained the lead in the number of records exposed in 2016. The sector has suffered 34 data breaches so far this year, representing about 43.4% of the total number of records exposed and 6.3% of the incidents. More than 5.6 million records have been compromised in the government/military sector to date in 2016.
  • The business sector accounts for nearly 2.5 million exposed records in 243 incidents. That represents 45.2% of the incidents and 19.1% of the exposed records.
  • The medical/health care sector has posted 34.4% (185) of all data breaches to date this year. The number of records exposed in these breaches totaled nearly 4.5 million, or about 34.4% of the total so far in 2016.
  • The number of banking/credit/financial breaches totals 16 for the year to date and involves nearly 5,300 records, some 3.1% of the total number of breaches and less than 0.1% of the records exposed.
  • The educational sector has seen 60 data breaches in 2016. The sector accounts for 11.2% of all breaches for the year and more than 400,000 exposed records, about 3.1% of the total so far this year.

Since beginning to track data breaches in 2005, ITRC had counted 6,348 breaches through July 19, 2016, involving more than 864 million records.