Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says Over 300 Million Individuals Affected By US data Leaks In 2020

The year 2020 was full of challenges. The global pandemic threatened our health and digital safety as cybercriminals took advantage of the worldwide uncertainty for a quick gain.

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, over 300 million individuals were affected in 1,108 US data breach and exposure incidents in 2020.

While last year’s data breach and exposure numbers are impressive, the number of such events actually went down by nearly a fifth (19%) from 1,362 in 2019 to 1,108 in 2020. The number of affected individuals also dropped by 66%, from over 887 million in 2019 to more than 300 million in 2020. 

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the decline in data breaches and exposures in 2020:

“While data breaches and exposures declined in 2020, other research sources reveal that the number of actual data records leaked reached record-highs last year. Cyberattacks are growing more sophisticated as cybercriminals find new and more effective ways to exploit organizations and consumers.”

Cyberattacks were the primary reasons behind such data infringements. They made up the majority — 79% of all the root causes and hit close to 170 million individuals. Phishing, including smishing and business email compromise, was by far the most common cyberattack method behind 44% of such breaches.

Other reasons behind data breaches and leaks last year included human and system errors (14%), as well as physical attacks (7%).

Name and Social Security Number was most commonly leaked data

While data breach and exposure incidents declined in 2020, they still caused tremendous damage, as cybercriminals managed to get a hold of a wide array of sensitive personal information.

The most commonly leaked personally identifiable information type was a name. It was involved in 973 or 88% of last year’s US data infringements.

Up next is the Social Security Number (SSN). There were 556 data breaches and exposure incidents where full SSN was revealed or stolen. Such events made up nearly half of all breaches and data exposures in 2020.

To read the full report, head over to:

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