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2023 a banner year for data breaches!

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2023 Was The Worst Year Yet For Data Breaches in Every Way—Except One

According to data from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the total number of cybercrime victims was down in 2023, but everything else was way up.

By Eric Griffith, PC Magazine

February 26, 2024

2023 Data Breach Report(Credit: Identity Theft Resource Center )

We called 2021 “the year of the breach,” based on the annual report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). 2022 was worse in many ways. Leaving 2023 in the rear view, the ITRC’s new report reveals it as the worst year yet for compromised data.

Surfshark, on the other hand, says the total number of compromised users has gone down. It makes that claim after tracking “every breached or leaked email address used to register for online services as a separate user account” across the globe.

Fewer compromised users might sound like good news, but that drop of 18% means compromised users fell to 299.8 million in 2023—which is still a huge number. Almost one third of those emails came out of the US.

The increase in US breaches was more than triple what it was in 2022, shooting from 30.9 to 96.7 million. The country with the biggest breach density (based on population) is Russia.

The ITRC, however, concentrates just on the self-reported breaches in these United States of America. Its 2023 Data Breach Report—the 18th edition—shows things are worse than ever.

While the total number of compromises between 2021 to 2022 went down, from 2022 to 2023 they skyrocketed by over 43%. (ITRC’s report does, however, concur with Surfshark on the total victim count dropping. ITRC shows a 16% decrease in the US. So…hooray?)

Below is the main ITRC infographic, showcasing the numbers, with breakdowns on total compromises (3,205), public data breach notices (1,400+), and total victims (north of 353 million). And remember, these are only the breaches and compromises that are publicly reported.

The industries getting compromised the most are healthcare and finance. The top vectors of attack are cyberattacks and human/system errors. The biggest rise however is attacks on the supply chain itself—a compromise that happens to an entity (like a small business) that doesn’t even own the data stolen. A perfect example is what happened with MOVEit. Such attacks are up 2,600% since 2018.

Top breaches for the year 2023 were at T-Mobile and Comcast Xfinity. Each impacted over 35 million victims. (Surfshark lists LinkedIn’s breach as the biggest for emails, at 11.4 million.)

The ITRC’s report introduction includes a rundown of how data breach reports only began after California enacted a law requiring it in 2003. That impacted companies outside of CA as well and the first voluntary reports happened two years later. By 2018 all the states had enacted some sort of breach notice requirements.

ITRC suggests the solution to the ongoing problem is to make a set of uniform breach laws, likely at the federal level, as what the states have now is a “patchwork” which is hard to regulate, expensive for businesses, and does little to inform individual victims. Imagine any of that improving during a contentious election year.

Read the full report at ITRC’s website, including information about their planned launch of a breach alert service for businesses. For your own security, read How to Protect Yourself From Data Breaches: Plan Ahead.

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