Editorial

2020: The year of data leaks

Data leaks surge almost 500 percent at 27 billion amid pandemic

Posted 1 September 2020 by

Data leaks are at an all-time high, rising by 492 percent to a record 27 billion in the first half of 2020.

Data acquired by Atlas VPN shows a total of 2,037 publicly reported breaches in the first half of 2020. Compared to the same period last year, the number of records exposed grew nearly six-fold from 4.7 billion to more than 27 billion records.

Twelve billion records were exposed in the first half of 2020, more than the total number of records leaked during the entirety of 2019.

Additionally, the figure is more than four times higher than any six-month period between 2013 and 2020.

Misconfigured databases and services were revealed to be the primary cause of the growing number of data leaks.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the rise in data records believes that data breaches are becoming more severe, with fewer breaches exposing more personal records than ever before.

“In addition, not all breaches are detected and reported immediately, which is why we can expect even more breaches that happened within the first six months of this year to surface well after the first half of 2020,” she said.

Email addresses

Breaches in the first half of this year exposed extremely sensitive personal data ranging from email addresses to social security numbers and credit card details.

People who tend to re-use the same email addresses and passwords across different platforms should take extra care as these credentials fall in the topmost commonly exposed data types, said Atlas VPN.

Emails remain the most targeted type of credentials three years in a row, with 42 percent of data breaches in the first half of 2020 containing email addresses.

 Names and passwords are also among the top three of the most commonly exposed data types in the first half of 2020, with 40 percent and 36 percent of breaches respectively containing these types of data.

Data breaches seem to be growing in severity, with the first six months of this year seeing the largest reported breaches in history. More than 66 percent (18 billion) of the records exposed in 2020 were the consequence of merely two data breaches.