The data breach at credit reporting firm Equifax has grabbed a lot of headlines in the past few weeks, but not even counting the 143 million personally identifiable records exposed in that breach, the number of records exposed globally in the first six months of 2017 totaled more than 1.9 billion.
According to Netherlands-based security firm Gemalto, that equals 10.5 million exposed records every day, 438,000 records every hour, 7,300 records every minute and 122 records every second. The firm reported 918 data breaches, up 13% compared to the final six months of 2016, but the number of breached records rose by 164%, from 721 million in the last half of last year.
Identity theft was the most common type of data breach, and malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches in the first half of the year.
Gemalto maintains a database of worldwide data breaches, including the number of breaches, number of data records lost or stolen and data breaches by the source of the breach, type of breach, industry and country or region. From the Breach Level Index database the firm assigns a score based on the number of records breached, the source of the breach and how thieves used the data.
The biggest breach in the first half of 2017 exposed 1.3 billion records when an email marketing firm named River City Media failed properly to protect backups of its billion email accounts, resulting in the exposed data. Gemalto categorized this as a nuisance breach because River City Media is a well-known spammer that sends out as many as a billion emails a day.
The largest identity theft breach occurred when an outside contractor to the U.S. Republican National Committee accidentally exposed personal data of 198 million U.S. voters by misconfiguring an Amazon Web Services publicly available cloud server.
Excluding the massive data breach at River City Media, the sector with the greatest number of exposed records globally was government with more than 404 million, followed by nearly 60 million exposed by tech firms, 32 million by educational groups and 31 million by health care organizations.
Of the 918 total incidents Gemalto recorded, 88% (808) occurred in North America with 781 in the United states alone. The United Kingdom with 40 incidents and Canada with 26 ranked second and third for number of breaches.