Data breaches have witnessed a major surge this year with cyber criminals stealing around 200 million data in the first quarter, a whopping 233 per cent rise over the year-ago period, a report by SafeNet said on Wednesday.

According to data protection solutions firm SafeNet’s Breach Level Index (BLI), records stolen during the quarter equals about 93,000 records stolen every hour.

“Of the 254 data breaches that occurred during the quarter, only 1 per cent were secure breaches or breaches where strong encryption, key management or authentication solutions protected the data from being used,” the BLI report said.

Due to varying strictness of data breach reporting requirements globally, this quarterly data does not include organisations that did not disclose the amount of data records that were exposed. In all probability, the total number is likely to be even higher, it added.

South Korea was the hardest hit with loss of 158 million records across a variety of industries, representing 79 per cent of the total number of reported breached records worldwide, it said.

While, the number of South Korean breached records was extremely high, the number of breach incidents in Asia Pacific as a whole accounted for only 7 per cent of the total number of global breaches, dwarfed by the 78 per cent (199 incidents) that occurred in North America and 13 per cent in Europe.

The report revealed that financial industry was hit the hardest, accounting for 56 per cent of all data records lost or stolen. However, it represented 14 per cent of the total breaches during the quarter.

Healthcare industry was hit hard in terms of breach events, accounting for 24 per cent of all breaches. However, the industry accounted for just 9 per cent of data records lost or stolen, it said.

Twenty per cent of all records lost or stolen came from the technology industry, while retail represented just 1 per cent of data records lost or stolen and 10 per cent of all data breaches even including the Sally Beauty Supply breach, which made major headlines, the report added.

Government and education breaches accounted for less than 1 per cent of total records stolen and 23 per cent of data breaches, including the University of Maryland’s breach of 287,000 records stolen early this year.

“There were approximately three breaches and 2.2 million records stolen each day, and more than 93,000 per hour,” BLI report said.

Commenting on the report, SafeNet Chief Strategy Officer Tsion Gonen said: “In differentiating between secure and insecure breaches, it’s important to look at which victims have protected their data with encryption to limit the damage from a breach and render date unusable to cyber criminals.”

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