The number of data compromises jumped 68 percent in 2021, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) 16th annual data breach report.
Last year marked another data breach record, with no fewer than 1,862 breaches, a 23 percent increase from the previous all-time high of 1,506, set in 2017.
Additionally, the events that led to the exposure of sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, only increased by 3 percentage points from 2020 (80 percent).
Despite a small 5 percent decrease in the number of identity theft victims from the previous year, the report notes that the number of consumers who were compromised multiple times per year remains dangerously high.
The number of repeat victims (29 percent) has also increased, with 83 percent of individuals unable to rent an apartment, and 67% unable to meet their financial obligations such as paying their bills, an increase of 26 percentage points from 2018.
Cyberattack-related data breaches have also increased, with ransomware attacks doubling in each of the past two years to become a top cause of data security incidents this year.
“In 2021, we saw a shift in the identity crime space,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the ITRC. “Too many people found themselves in between criminals and organizations that hold consumer information. We may look back at 2021 as the year when we moved from the era of identity theft to identity fraud. The number of breaches in 2021 was alarming.
“Many of the cyberattacks committed were highly sophisticated and complex, requiring aggressive defenses to prevent them,” Velasquez said. “If those defenses failed, too often we saw an inadequate level of transparency for consumers to protect themselves from identity fraud.”
Data breaches and data security incidents that put consumers at risk of identity theft are unlikely to decline this year. Even though there are no bulletproof solutions to keep consumer data breach-free, opting for a privacy-focused service that helps you take control and manage your digital self can help speed the recovery process and prevent any further financial damages. Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection tool can help you manage your digital footprint and help you practice good cyber hygiene.
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