Over 700 million data records were compromised last year thanks to 1,673 data breaches, according to digital security firm Gemalto.
The vendor tracks publicly available global breach data and ranks incidents according to their impact to compile its Breach Level Index.
In 2015, 22 records were lost every second, yet in only 4% of total cases strong encryption was used to render that stolen data useless to the attacker.
The majority of incidents (53%) were related to identity theft rather than financial access (22%) or account access (11%).
This is a shift away from a pattern of previous years, when credit card and other financial data was the main target for cybercriminals, according to Gemalto data protection CTO, Jason Hart.
He argued that it’s hard to remediate attacks compromising personal data.
“As companies and devices collect ever-increasing amounts of customer information and as consumers’ online digital activities become more diverse and prolific, more data about what they do, who they are and what they like is at risk to be stolen from the companies that store their data,” Hart added.
“If consumers’ entire personal data and identities are being co-opted again and again by cyber thieves, trust will increasingly become the centerpiece in the calculus of which companies they do business with.”
Malicious outsiders accounted for the majority of breach incidents (58%), with accidental loss (24%) and then malicious insiders (14%) coming next.
However, some argue that the damage and costs associated with insider threats can often outweigh those that stem from external attackers.
Over three-quarters of breaches (77%) happened in North America – although the high number could be down to mandatory notification laws there. Europe (12%) and APAC (8%) came next.
Government was by far the most targeted sector, accounting for 43% of records lost, followed by healthcare (19%). That makes sense considering the major attacks on the US OPM, and health companies Anthem and Premera.
More than 3.6 billion data records have been exposed since 2013, when Gemalto began the index.