Cybersecurity has been a prime topic of conversation following a string of attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure including the Colonial Pipeline attack, JBS Foods ransomware incident and others. On Wednesday, Atlas VPN released a report using Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) data, outlining personal data breaches for the first half of 2021.
“Millions of individuals and organizations are affected every day by cyberattacks that threaten to steal sensitive data. Even though more people have become aware of cyber risks, hackers develop new techniques and malware to stay ahead of defense technologies,” reads a portion of the blog post written by William S., an Atlas VPN publisher and cybersecurity researcher.
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2021 data compromises by the numbers
One of the listed infographics parses out data by the total number of data compromises and affected individuals for the first half of this year. Overall, June saw the highest number of breaches with 203, followed by April (151), March (144) and May (137). In order, February and January rounded out the top six with 111 and 100 compromises, respectively.
Interestingly, the number of compromises does not always directly correlate with the number of individuals affected. For example, February topped the list for the first half of 2021 with 35,313,405 people impacted followed by April (25,443,298) and March (23,309,513). In order, May (20,657,152), January (7,214,985) and June (6,750,974) round out the top six months in terms of most people affected.
“The most popular attack vectors in the second quarter were phishing, ransomware, or malware cyberattacks. Also, there was a noticeable increase in supply chain attacks, the most recent one being on security software provider Kaseya,” William S. said in the post.
Data compromises by industry
Another Atlas VPN infographic parses out industry-specific data to highlight the number of compromises by sector. Between the first and second quarters of 2021, personal data compromises surged 38% with financial services and healthcare topping this list as “the most targeted sectors” as cybercriminals “can benefit from stolen data or a paid ransom,” the blog post said.
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Overall, healthcare topped the list with 162 compromises followed by financial services (132) and manufacturing and utilities (98). The blog post said that manufacturing and utility cyberattacks have “recently been growing due to more companies using more automation and Internet-of-Things technologies across the production chain,” noting that “computerization led to hackers having more access points where they can find vulnerabilities to interrupt business processes.”
In order, professional services (75) and education (57) round out the top five sectors in terms of the number of compromises by industry.
Within the professional services sector, the blog post said the “primary factor for attacks is that such businesses usually have access to confidential and sensitive client information.” The author noted that this “data has great value,” for cybercriminals, and if this information were to be leaked, this could “cause disastrous financial loss and reputational damage.”