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Global data breaches decline but the extent of issue remain staggering

Despite this improvement, 300 million users worldwide still experienced breaches.

Ransomware allegedly sold by a Venezuelan-French doctor would encrypt information on the computers that had been hacked, then the attackers would demand money to decrypt it
Image: - © AFP/File JEFF KOWALSKY
Image: - © AFP/File JEFF KOWALSKY

New data considering the extent of data leaks and breaches has established that ten accounts were leaked every second of 2023. This is based on Surfshark’s latest global study.

A data breach happens when confidential and sensitive data gets exposed to unauthorized third parties. In this study, we treat every breached or leaked email address used to register for online services as a separate user account, which may have been leaked with additional information, such as password, phone number, IP address, zip code, and more.

The assessment finds the U.S. topped the list with 97 million data breaches. This alarming figure is followed by Russia (78 million) and France (10 million), Spain (8 million), and India (5 million).

The previous year, in 2022, Russia had the highest number of breaches. However, in 2023, the number of breaches decreased by 27 percent, causing Russia to drop to 2nd place. Despite the decrease, Russia still holds over a quarter of all breached accounts in 2023.

Reviewing the pertinent points from the study, Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher at Surfshark has told Digital Journal: “As we look back on 2023, there’s a positive trend in data breaches – a 20 percent decrease in affected accounts compared to 2022.”

In more detail in 2023, the second quarter had the highest number of breaches at 135 million, while Q3 had the least (down to 31 million).

While the number of data breaches has slightly decreased globally, some countries experienced an increase. In the U.S., for example, the number of breaches increased trifold.

Therefore, the extent of the issue remains a matter of global importance, Sablovskaja explains: “Despite this improvement, 300 million users worldwide still experienced breaches. Even a single account data leak can lead to unauthorized access, risking the misuse of personal information, potential identity or financial theft.”

The biggest factor of concern is password misuse. Here Sablovskaja indicates: “Using the same passwords across multiple accounts can compromise others, so it’s crucial to use unique and strong passwords for different online services.”

In terms of websites where data breaches are more prominent, the study established that LinkedIn had the biggest instance of people’s personal details being made available for nefarious actors, with almost 11.5 million emails leaked due to the scraping of publicly available information. Other notable breaches occurred on the sites Duolingo (2.7 million data breaches) and Chess.com (1.2 million incidences).

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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