The UK was behind only US in the number of data breaches it suffered last year, according to research by Gemalto.
Of the 1,792 data breaches globally in 2016, 108 occurred in the UK. However, a mammoth 1,348 occurred in the US.
The breaches in the UK resulted in 54,468,603 compromised data records, up from 9,478,730 in 2016. The UK’s biggest breach was by Fling, which resulted in 40,000,000 data records compromised.
Over half of data incidents in the UK involved a malicious outsider (54%), with 35% down to accidental loss. Just under half of the breaches were classified as identity theft (46%).
The UK government suffered the most incidents with 21, just ahead of the 20 in the healthcare industry.
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But it was in the US where the most dramatic data incidents were recorded. The account access-based attack on AdultFriend Finder exposed 400 million records and scored a ten in terms of severity on Gemalto’s breach level index. The top ten breaches in terms of severity accounted for over half of all compromised records.
In 2016, Yahoo reported two major data breaches involving 1.5 billion user accounts, but they are not accounted for in Gemalto’s 2016 numbers since they occurred in 2013 and 2014.
“Hackers are casting a wider net and are using easily-attainable account and identity information as a starting point for high value targets,” said Jason Hart, VP and CTO for data protection at Gemalto. “Fraudsters are also shifting from attacks targeted at financial organisations to infiltrating large data bases such as entertainment and social media sites. [They] have been using encryption to make breached data unreadable, then hold it for ransom and decrypting once they are paid.”