Top data breach trends in 2016 — Phishing, skimming rise; hacking holds ground

In a year marked by massive data breaches, trends report finds skimming and phishing made waves in 2016.

When news broke in December of a massive data breach at Yahoo, it was met with a collective “This, again? Didn’t they just report a breach?” The company had, in fact, reported a record-breaking breach of 500 million user accounts three months earlier, but it was dwarfed by the December breach, which impacted over 1 billion records.

That pair of record breaking breaches was a fitting way to cap off a year marked by massive data breaches. As security intelligence provider Risk Based Security (RBS) points out in its newly-released 2016 Data Breach Trends report, “six 2016 breaches have taken their place on the Top 10 List of All Time Largest Breaches.”

By many measures, and not surprisingly, the data breach trend story for 2016 is one of explosive growth in the number of records exposed, from 822 million in 2015 to over 4.2 billion in 2016 — and “approximately 3.2 billion more records than the previous all-time high exposed in 2013.”

While the number of records exposed was far higher in 2016 than the year prior, the RBS report found that the total number of incidents declined from 4,326 in 2015 to 4,149 in 2016. Inga Goddijn, executive vice president of Risk Based Security, offered a couple of explanations for the decline in one measure and the growth in the other.

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