US data breaches hit record high in 2021 affecting nearly 300 million victims

Published : Thursday, February 17, 2022, 1:17 pm
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Every year brings new data breach victims. According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, based on Identity Theft Resource Center research, the volume of publicly reported data compromises in the United States reached a record-high of 1,862, affecting 293.9 million victims.

While the number of compromises soared by 68% compared to 2020, the number of victims actually fell by 5%.

Overall, cyberattacks were the root cause of 1,613 or 87% of data compromises, with phishing, smishing, and business email compromise (BEC) attacks being the reason for 537 or 29% of all breaches — 40% rise from 2020.

Cybersecurity writer and researcher at Atlas VPN Ruta Cizinauskaite shares her thoughts on growing phishing threats:

"Social engineering attacks, such as phishing, smishing, and business email compromise,
remain one of the biggest cyberthreats to organizations both in the United States and worldwide. To effectively defend against sophisticated phishing scams, organizations must combine technology solutions with employee education, providing awareness of phishing attacks and other possible threats."

The manufacturing and utilities sector suffered the most

All major economic sectors suffered from data compromises in 2021. However, some were affected more than others.

The most impacted industry in terms of the number of victims was manufacturing and utilities, with 49.8 million breached accounts — a whopping 1,618% increase from last year. The number of data compromises affecting the sector also grew more than threefold from 70 in 2021 to 222 in 2021.

Next up is the technology sector with 44 million victims. Despite the high victim count, it suffered significantly less — 79 attacks.

The healthcare sector occupies the third spot on the list, with 28 million victims. It was affected by 330 data compromises — more than any other sector.

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