Skyrocketing Data Breaches Hit All-Time High In 2021 As Ransomware Attacks Doubled

cybercriminal hacker
It felt like we were constantly reading about data compromises last year. Unfortunately, this statement is not far from the truth. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), there were 1,862 data compromises in 2021. The overall number of data compromises was up by 63% from 2020 and the number of ransomware attacks doubled last year.

The ITRC is a national nonprofit organization that was originally founded in 1999. Its main purpose is to reduce the risk of “identity compromise and crime” and aid victims who have experienced it. This is its  sixteenth year releasing its Annual Data Breach Report.

The report includes plenty of revealing data. The number of ransomware attacks has not only doubled in each of the past two years but will soon outpace phishing attacks. There also were “more cyberattack-related data compromises (1,603) in 2021 than all data compromises in 2020 (1,108).” The number of compromises that involved sensitive information increased a bit by 3%. All sectors reported more data compromises in 2021 with the exception of the United States military. It is likely the military experienced some data compromises but they have not been reported to the public.

hacker cybersecurity
Interestingly, the number of victims actually decreased by 5% in 2021 to 294 million individuals. However, this decrease did not occur because criminals suddenly discovered a conscience. The report stated that “criminals [focused] more on specific data types rather than mass data acquisition.” It was also noted that the number of victims whose data was compromised was still incredibly high.

Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of ITRC, remarked, “Many of the cyberattacks committed were highly sophisticated and complex, requiring aggressive defenses to prevent them.” The report further noted that companies and other organizations often provided an “inadequate level of transparency” to consumers. This made it more challenging for consumers to safeguard their data. 

Vasquez further commented that his company believes data compromises will possibly rise again in 2022. It recommends that individuals “practice good cyber-hygiene.” ITRC plans to launch a free service later this year to encourage this cyber-hygiene. Consumers will be alerted if an organization that has their data has experienced a compromise.