Data Breaches: Definition & Statistics

Data Breaches: Definition & Statistics
Coming up next: Data Breaches: Protection & Prevention

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  • 0:00 What Is a Data Breach?
  • 0:48 Statistics
  • 1:34 Examples
  • 2:47 The Law
  • 3:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
With more and more data being kept online, criminals are increasing targeting it as a way to defraud millions. This lesson details what a data breach is as well as some companies that have suffered them.

What is a Data Breach?

All of that data that your data centers hold and protect is pretty valuable. After all, your business would find it very difficult to function without it. However, don't think that you're the only one who finds it valuable. Plenty of other people would love to get a look at it. It's nothing personal - they often don't want to ruin your company, but instead, they want to defraud the people whose records your firm has been entrusted with. Anytime an unauthorized person accesses private data, it is called a data breach. Data breaches are a real threat to the security of your information, and in this lesson, we're going to look at examples of data breaches, as well as statistics, before seeing how the law treats these breaches.


The statistics on data breaches are pretty sobering. Over the last decade or so, around 6,000 data breaches have happened and been reported. Those breaches put almost a billion records into play with some major retailers having exposed up to 40 million people. In short, chances are that you or someone you know may have had data exposed during a breach.

The nature of this data is equally disconcerting. Upwards of 20% of it includes financial information that is immediately actionable by a fraudulent person, such as a debit or credit card number. More than 40% of it includes a social security number, meaning criminals could claim benefits, register for new credit cards, or even access medical information.


While only 6,000 data breaches have been verified in the past decade, that doesn't mean that they haven't been truly massive. Here are some examples:

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