World hit by record wave of ‘mega’ data breaches in 2013

World hit by record wave of ‘mega’ data breaches in 2013: What do Target, AOL, LivingSocial, Evernote, and Adobe have in common with one another? Answer: they were all victims of huge data breaches during 2013, part of a phenomenon that a new Symantec report calcuates has reached epidemic levels.

According to the firm’s latest Internet Security Threat Report ISTR, such ‘mega’ breaches are only the best-known victims from a spike nobody saw coming after a quiet 2012.

That last year was a record year for data breaches has been apparent for some time, but the scale of the rise revealed in the numbers is still extraordinary. It doesn’t seem to matter which measurement is used, what happened was bad, nay appalling, with the number of breaches hitting a record 258, a 62 percent rise over 2012.This saw 552 million identities compromized, including 8 breach incidents that exceeded 10 million in each case. This compares with the previous high point for data breaches, 2011, which saw 208 breaches, equivalent to 232 million records.

The first uncomfortable fact is this: these are only the ones we know about. Almost all the names on the top ten list are US-based, which doesn’t mean they haven’t been happening everywhere else too.

The second uncomfortable fact is this: 552 million breached records means that excluding duplicates the criminal underworld now probably knows not just the email addresses of approaching half a billion people but in many cases their home addresses, names and perhaps even social security numbers. And this is only one year’s total.