The number of data breaches in 2017 tracked by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) totaled 1,579, easily a new annual record and 45% higher than the previous record of 1,091 recorded in 2016. A total of 178.96 million records were exposed.
According to ITRC data, 59.4% of the breaches were attributable to hacking attacks, up 3.2% year over year. Some 21% resulted from phishing attacks and more than 12% were attributed to ransomware/malware attacks.
Matt Cullina, CEO of CyberScout, which participates with the ITRC in tracking breach data, said:
Year after year we continue to use the Annual Data Breach Year-End Review as a tool to further glean trends about the state of data breaches, or to confirm what we already know about them. With the business sector being strongly impacted, now more than ever it’s important for organizations of all sizes to not only be prepared for a data breach, but to also be taking proactive steps to plan for the inevitability.
Of the five industry sectors that the ITRC tracks, the business category topped the list for the third year in a row with 55% (870) of the overall total number of breaches. This marks the eighth time since 2005 that the number of breaches for this sector has surpassed all other industries. More than 163 million records were exposed due to breaches in the business sector, with more than 140 million reported in the Equifax breach alone.
The medical/health care industry followed in second place with 23.7% (374) of the overall total, with the banking/credit/financial sector rounding out the top three with 8.5% (134) of the overall total. This is only the second time since 2005 that the banking/credit/financial sector has ranked in the top three industry categories. The remaining two sectors, educational and government/military, represented 8.0% and 4.7%, respectively, of all breaches.
Through the first few weeks of 2018, the ITRC reports that there have been 69 data breaches recorded and that more than 3 million records have been exposed since the beginning of the year. The incident total is 9% higher than at the same time last year. Not an auspicious beginning.