Key Cybersecurity Statistics You Need to Know

No matter how much you use your computer, and what types of tasks you perform on your device each week, cybersecurity and digital privacy should be a concern.

The risks of having your networks hacked and information stolen are high, so it’s wise to educate yourself on the latest data. Get up to date on key cybersecurity statistics and learn simple ways to make your online experiences safer.

Cybersecurity Attacks Common and Frequent

If you think cybersecurity is a topic you don’t have to worry too much about, as you’re unlikely to become a victim, think again. According to the 2019 Year End Data Breach QuickView Report from Risk Based Security, a global leader in vulnerability intelligence, breach data, and risk ratings, last year was the new worst year on record.

The company noted there were over 7,000 breached reported in 2019, which exposed more than 15 billion records. This was a 284 percent increase from the number of records exposed in 2018. Amongst the data seen and potentially used by hackers was everything from people’s marital status, phone numbers, addresses, and email contacts, through to birth dates, medical records, passport numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account information, and payment data.

For example, according to a cumulative roundup from CNET, breaches included:

  • Hacks on the American Medical Collection Association’s bill collector, leaving the data of at least 20 million patient records exposed
  • The records of up to 383 million guests of the Marriott hotel group getting accessed by hackers
  • Exposure of hundreds of millions of Facebook and Instagram user credentials to cybercriminals
  • The Words with Friends game databases being broken into, allowing hackers to see more than 200 million player accounts and related details

Another worrying statistic comes from a 2019 report released by IronNet Cybersecurity. Titled “Collective Offense Calls for a Collective Defense: A Reality Check for Cybersecurity Decision Makers,” the report compiled data from interviews with 200 U.S. security IT decision-makers.

Over a 12-month span, respondents experienced four attacks on their organizations on average. Significantly, 20 percent of these respondents said they were hit six or more times. Many of these incidents were so severe that they required meetings with top C-level staff or Board members, too.

Not Just Businesses Affected

Many consumers erroneously believe that big businesses and other organizations are the ones affected most by security breaches. However, individuals and small businesses are targeted extensively too. This is shown via the RSA Data Privacy and Security Survey 2019: The Growing Data Disconnect Between Consumers and Businesses.

According to the survey, 45 percent of U.S. respondents said they’d had personal information compromised online by a data breach in the last five years. Furthermore, 39 percent of all respondents didn’t actually know if their details had been compromised or not.

When it comes to small businesses, they don’t escape cybercriminal attention either. The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report noted that 43 percent of cyber-attacks target these smaller ventures.

Threats Come from Multiple Sources

Consumers need to understand, too, that cyber threats can come from all sorts of sources. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that three kinds of attacks – credential theft, errors, and social attacks – account for 67 percent of all breaches. Web application attacks led to 43 percent of breaches (double 2019 numbers), while ransomware is also on the rise. According to the report, 27 percent of malware incidents are ransomware.

What You Can Do to Stay Safe

Despite all the cybersecurity risks, you can take steps to protect your data and stay safer from hacker attacks. Install quality, comprehensive security software on your devices. Choose a product that includes built-in ransomware removal, so if you do get stung by this type of break-in, you shouldn’t have to pay a hacker ransom or deal with other fallout. Utilize the firewall pre-installed on your computer, too, as this adds an extra line of defense.

Next, choose hard-to-guess passwords for your computers and smart-home products, accounts (banking, email, shopping, etc.) and Wi-Fi router. Update your passwords over time and choose codes that contain a mixture of characters and are reasonably long.

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Use different passwords for your various online accounts, so if a hacker determines one of your codes, they won’t be able to use this to break into all of your systems in a “domino effect” attack. Note that the TeleSign Consumer Account Security Report indicated that one of the most common security mistakes people make is using the same password, yet 73 percent of online accounts actually use duplicated passwords. Also, don’t open emails or attachments from unexpected sources, and keep all software updated, to plug security gaps.

Being aware of the current cybersecurity situation and following the above tips will help you reduce the risks of a hacker attack. We can’t rely purely on companies and organizations to protect us; we must do our part, too.