Number of US cybersecurity breaches fall, but costs rise


The COVID-19 crisis forced companies and organizations worldwide to increase their cybersecurity budgets, as millions of people switched to working and learning at home amid ongoing lockdowns.

Although the mass move to online work created a huge space for malicious cyber attacks, many US companies implemented increased security measures to protect themselves from losing sensitive data.

According to data presented by, the number of data breaches in the United States came in at a total of 1001 cases in 2020, a 32% drop year-over-year.

156M Records Exposed in 2020, 9M less than in 2019

However, within the past decade, data breaches in the United States have skyrocketed. In 2005, companies and organizations across the country suffered 157 of these malicious attacks, revealed Identity Theft Resource Center 2020 Breach Report.

By the end of 2010, this figure jumped to 662 and continued rising. Statistics show the number of data breaches in the United States peaked at 1,632 in 2017, a 265% increase in ten years. After slipping to 1,257 in 2018, data breaches again jumped to 1,473 in 2019.

While data breaches result from planned cyber-attacks on an organization’s database, data exposures or data leaks are caused by a human error like weak internal cyber-security.

Statistics show the number of data leaks in the United States peaked in 2009 and 2018 with over 223 and 471 million exposed sensitive records, respectively.

In 2019, the number of data exposures dropped to 164.6 million, almost three times less than in 2018. Statistics show the number of exposed records in the United States continued falling and hit almost 156 million last year, 9 million less than in 2019.

US Data Breaches Drop, Average Data Breach Cost Rises

The global average cost of a data breach has fluctuated between $3.5 million and $4 million in recent years. In 2020, it hit $3.86 million, a 1.5% drop year-on-year, revealed the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020 commissioned by IBM.

The report also showed it usually took 280 days for an organization to spot and contain a breach, a day more than a year ago. However, statistics indicate these figures vary significantly based on the country and industry.

The healthcare industry tops the list of the most expensive data breaches with a $7.13 million average data breach cost, 84% more than the global average.

Analyzed by geography, the United States leads among all surveyed countries with an average data breach cost of $8.64 million in 2020, a 5.5% increase in a year. Statistics also show this figure surged by 60% in the last seven years, growing from $5.4 million in 2013. Financial services represented the costliest industry for a data breach in the United States last year, while companies and organizations needed 237 days to identify a breach, compared to 245 days in 2019.

The statistics showed the tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) suffered the biggest data breach last year. In January, 250 million Microsoft’s customer records have been exposed online without password protection. The exposed data included customer service and support logs detailing conversations between Microsoft agents and customers from 2005 to December 2019.

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Chris Price
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