Apple touts data protection efforts as study reveals 2.6 billion personal records compromised by data breaches

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Apple has commissioned a study which reveals data breaches and attacks are at a record high, and growing at an alarming rate. 

The news

A new study commissioned by Apple and conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Dr. Stuart Madnick has revealed that the total number of data breaches worldwide has tripled between 2013 and 2022 and that 2.6 billion personal records have been compromised in the last years alone. 

Why it matters to you

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Everyone who uses technology has to entrust their personal data to a third party, be it Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, or an innumerable number of smaller companies. According to Apple, these findings “underscore that strong protections against data breaches in the cloud, like end-to-end encryption, have only grown more essential” and that customers should consider using all the tools available to them, including its Advanced Data Protection for iCloud

From the source

Today's study is a 25-page epic titled ‘The Continued Threat to Personal Data: Key Factors Behind the 2023 Increase.’ At its heart, the paper reveals that global attacks and data breaches continue to increase and that cybercriminals “are constantly finding new ways to access data and exploit readable personal data,” especially in the cloud. 

2023 smashed the 2022 record for the number of data breaches, reaching 20% more than all of 2022 in just the first nine months of the year. As more people store more of their lives online, these attacks are only becoming more impactful. Not only are attacks “more numerous and dangerous than ever,” but attackers are increasingly targeting vendors of third-party software to gain access to the data stored by every organization that uses their services. 

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By the numbers

Here are some of the main statistics regarding data breaches and attacks over 2022 and 2023: 

  • 2.6 billion personal records breached in 2021 and 2022
  • 3x the number of data breaches between 2013 and 2022
  • 20% increase in data breaches on 2022 in the first nine months of 2023
  • 95% of organizations surveyed in 2023 IBM Cost of a Data Breach report had experienced more than one data breach
  • 80% of data breaches involved data stored in the cloud
  • Ransomware attacks up by 70% in the first three quarters of 2023 vs 2022
  • 98% of organizations have a relationship with a vendor that has experienced a data breach in the last two years
  • One in four people in the US had their health data exposed in a data breach in the first three quarters of 2023. 

Data breaches — iMore’s take

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Naturally, given this is an Apple-backed study, the pressing concern of data breaches brings into sharp light the need to use all of the tools that Apple offers to its users in order to help them protect their data. Preparing for this story, I realized I don’t even use Apple’s Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which gives end-to-end encryption to nearly all of your iCloud data, including passwords and photos. The tide of digitizing our lives only seems to be moving in one direction, so it’s important that everyone, not just Apple, get their act together in protecting our data. If this problem is as alarming as the report suggests, it also seems like governments need to do more to regulate data protection and prosecute people who try to steal it. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9