Data compromises in 2021 hit an all-time high with a total of 1,826 incidents reported, according to a recent report released by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
The previous all-time high was reported in 2017, with 1,506 incidents reported; data compromises in 2021 were 23 percent higher. The report also found that data compromises in 2021 were over 68 percent compared to 2020. According to the ITRC report, the numbers reflect a year of high-profile cyberattacks that targeted everything from the largest oil pipelines in the U.S. to the personal information of millions of consumers.
ITRC’s president and CEO, Eva Velasquez, called the number of incidents “alarming.”
“There is no reason to believe the level of data compromises will suddenly decline in 2022,” Velasquez said in a statement. “As organizations of all sizes struggle to defend the data they hold, it is essential that everyone practice good cyber hygiene to protect themselves and their loved ones from these crimes.”
The number of data breaches involving sensitive information increased slightly compared to 2020, 83 percent versus 80 percent. However, it remained significantly lower than in 2017— 95 percent. The report also found that the number of victims in these breaches continues to decrease; in 2021, it was down five percent compared to the previous years, which points to an increased focus on specific data types rather than mass data acquisition by cybercriminals.
However, the number of consumers whose data was compromised multiple times per year remains alarmingly high.
“There is no reason to believe the level of data compromises will suddenly decline in 2022. As organizations of all sizes struggle to defend the data they hold, it is essential that everyone practice good cyber hygiene to protect themselves and their loved ones from these crimes,” said Velasquez.
Additionally, the report found that ransomware attacks have doubled each year since 2019. It represents 22 percent of the total number of reported cyberattacks in 2021. And at that rate, ransomware attacks will surpass phishing as the number one root cause of data compromises in 2022.