Breach, Data Security

Since 2004, the average American has had at least 7 data breaches

A study by IT security company Surfshark found that Americans experienced the most data breaches than citizens of other nations. (“Globe” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

U.S. citizens face the greatest number of cyber threats as compared with people in other nations worldwide, according to a recent study by IT security company Surfshark.

After reviewing nearly two decades of data regarding cyber incidents, Surkshark found that the average American had been affected by at least seven data breaches since 2004. U.S. citizens have faced an estimated 2.3 billion account compromises, while Russia comes second with 2.2 billion accounts of cyberattacks, followed by China, Germany and France.

“On a global scale, 191 accounts are breached per 100 people on average," said Agneska Sablovskaja, data researcher at Surfshark. “However, in the U.S., this number goes up to 694 per 100 people. Statistically speaking, a single American person has had around seven instances in which they were victims of data breaches.”

The scale of breached American accounts is “so massive that it makes up around 15% of all breached users globally,” according to a release from Surfshark. “Statistically, every U.S. internet user has lost 27 data points on average to online breaches, most of them emails, passwords and usernames.”

Ironically, many of these breaches go basic security block-and-tackling. Case in point: More than two-thirds of American accounts are leaked with the basic password access, putting 72% of breached users in danger of account takeover that might lead to identity theft, extortion or other cybercrimes. The study is based on the data from reviewing 27,000 leaked databases. U.S. citizens have faced more breached accounts, per capita, than any other country since early 2020. 

A combined sum of 8.7 billion American last names, IPs, first names, passwords, usernames, and other data has been sold or leaked online since 2004. “This means that there is a high likelihood that a certain username was grouped with other personal data, giving criminals direct access to various victims’ profiles, emails, photos or documents,” according to Surfshark, which found that for every 10 leaked American accounts, there are seven breached passwords found in the datasets.

However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel: In terms of breach rate, U.S. statistics (694 breaches per 100 people) look more positive than Russia’s attack rate. Russian citizens face 1,489 breaches per every hundred people, “meaning that there is virtually no chance to not be subject to some sort of cybercrime if you live in Russia.”

Similarly, while China stands third in terms of total breached users, its rate is 69 per 100 due to the enormous size of the population. Germany and France take fourth and fifth place, respectively, showing similar breach rates to the U.S., according to Surfshark.

There is little doubt that breaches overall are on the rise. In the first quarter of 2022, 304 global accounts were being breached every minute. And, in the second quarter of 2022, breach rates are 6.7% higher. However, on a positive note, the trend in the United States runs contrary to this worldwide trend: The U.S. breach rate is 33% lower when comparing the second quarter of this year to the last, falling from 18 to 12 breached accounts per minute.

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