Zero-day, supply-chain attacks drove data breach high for 2023

“The complexity of modern software supply chains adds to this challenge, as it can hide potential security flaws and make comprehensive vetting difficult,” Neal adds.

Number of data breaches rise, but fewer victims

While the number of data breaches was up, the ITRC found a decline in the number of victims affected by the compromises, to 353,027,892, a 16% decline from 425,212,090 in 2022. That decline is part of a longer trend. “If you go back to 2018, which was the high point for victim count, we’re down 84%,” Lee says. “Identity thieves have changed their tactics. They’re more targeted, both in what they’re attacking and the information that they’re seeking.”

“Attackers today who want personal identifying information are more able to target the right systems,” Bach says. “If you’re more precise about the systems that you target, there’s going to be less collateral damage. That’s how we can see the number of attacks go up while the number of affected individuals goes down.”

“The breaches we’re seeing affect organizations more directly than individuals,” adds Luciano Allegro, co-founder and CMO of BforeAi, a threat intelligence company. “Many companies have stepped up their data privacy efforts due to GDPR and CCPA, but they are so focused on this aspect of data protection that they overlook the rest of their infrastructure.”

Supply-chain and zero-day attacks will continue to rise

The ITRC also reported that nearly 11% of all publicly traded companies were compromised in 2023 and that while most industries saw modest increases, healthcare, financial services, and transportation reported more than double the number of compromises compared to 2022.

For the coming year, Lee expects breach numbers to continue to trend upwards. “I don’t see any reason for it to go down,” he says. “With the increase in supply-chain and zero-day attacks, I believe we’re going to see another year of increases.”

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