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Almost 300 million user accounts were breached globally in 2023, with a third of leaked accounts originating from the US, according to a recent global study from Surfshark.

In the report, researchers show that data breaches worldwide have decreased by 18% compared to 2022, plummeting from 366.7 million leaked accounts to 299.8 million. However, some countries, including the US, saw an increase in the number of breaches.

In the space of a year, leaked user accounts in the US increased threefold, reaching nearly 100 million breached online accounts in 2023. This is a significant jump from 2022, which saw 31 million leaked accounts.

Compared to 2022, Russia had the highest number of breaches. Now, breaches have decreased by 27%, but Russia still holds over a quarter of all breached accounts in 2023, with nearly 80 million leaked accounts. France took third place with 79 million breached accounts, followed by Spain (8 million) and India (5 million).

Surfshark global data breaches infographic
Global data breaches infographic via Surfshark

Out of all regions, Africa saw the greatest year-over-year decrease — 88%, bringing its total of 25 million leaked accounts in 2022 down to 3 million in 2023. Surfshark’s research shows that 10 accounts were leaked every second last year, but there is still a positive trend in data breaches compared to the previous year.

While many major data leaks contributed to these numbers, including Duolingo leaking 2.7 million email addresses and Russian platforms such as Gloria Jeans exposing 20 million email accounts, LinkedIn contributed to the biggest leak.

The report notes that LinkedIn saw 11.5 million emails leak thanks to the scraping of publicly available information. Out of the leaked accounts, 1.6 million were American, 1.1 million were French, and 700,000 were British.

“As we look back on 2023, there’s a positive trend in data breaches – a 20% decrease in affected accounts compared to 2022,” says Lead Researcher at Surfshark Agneska Sablovskaja. “Despite this improvement, 300 million users worldwide still experienced breaches.”

She continues: “Even a single account data leak can lead to unauthorised access, risking the misuse of personal information, potential identity or financial theft. Using the same passwords across multiple accounts can compromise others, so it’s crucial to use unique and strong passwords for different online services.”

Best ways to prevent data breaches

A data breach is a security incident where sensitive, protected, or confidential information is accessed by someone who isn’t authorised to do so. This can involve unauthorised copying, transmission, viewing, stealing, altering, or using the data.

As for the kind of data being stolen, this can include social security numbers, bank account numbers, healthcare information, and even home addresses. Company information is also at risk, as it can contain customer data records, intellectual property, financial information, or other confidential business secrets.

As cybersecurity expert Norton warns, “data is where the real currency is,” so it’s a good idea to keep your online account secure using the right security tools.

To help stop data breaches and phishing attacks, it is recommended to use tools such as Norton Genie, a free AI scam detector, and NordVPN’s free URL Link Checker.

For even better protection, check out the best antivirus software to keep your online accounts and devices protected. Better yet, to stay anonymous online, try out the best VPN services.

Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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