After setting an all-time high in 2021, data breaches show no signs of slowing down in 2022. The number of known data breaches in the United States during the first quarter of 2022 totaled 404, a 14% increase from the same period a year earlier, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s annual report.
It is the third consecutive year in which the number of data breaches increased during the first quarter compared to the same period the previous year, and is the highest number of data breaches to occur during the first quarter since 2020.
“Traditionally, Q1 is the lowest number of data compromises reported each year,” Identity Theft Resource Center chief executive and president Eva Velasquez says in a prepared statement. “The fact the number of breach events in Q1 represents a double-digit increase over the same time last year is another indicator that data compromises will continue to rise in 2022 after setting a new all-time high in 2021.”
The number of data breaches reported in 2021 totaled 1,862, up from 1,108 in 2020, according to the ITRC.
Of the data breaches that occurred during the first quarter, 92% were the result of cyberattacks. While phishing and ransomware are the most common methods of attack, accounting for 110 and 67 of the data breaches reported during the quarter, respectively, some 154 of the breaches reported during the first quarter did not list a root cause. By comparison, 110 of the 354 reported data breaches during the first quarter of 2021 did not list a cause.
“While subsequent breach-notice updates may include more attack information, the increasing lack of transparency in breach notices represents a risk to organizations as well as individual consumers,” the report says.
Despite the increase in the number of attacks in the first quarter, the number of victims affected by the attacks declined significantly. There were 20.7 million victims during the quarter, about 50% fewer during the same period in 2021 and 41% less than during the fourth quarter of 2021.
“As we mentioned in our 2021 Annual Data Breach Report, we saw an alarming number of data breaches last year due to highly complex and sophisticated cyberattacks that are fueling the dramatic rise in identity fraud,” says Velasquez. “It is vital everyone continues to practice good cyber-hygiene, businesses and consumers, to help reduce the amount of personal information flowing into the hands of cyberthieves.”