Incogni: yearly crime victim count has almost doubled since 2019

The last two years were very productive for cybercriminals. They managed to steal the data from more than two billion accounts. Every second someone steals or copies data from at least 30 accounts. Cybercrime is getting worse every year and Americans have every reason to feel unsafe online. 

Incogni data analysis: yearly cybercrime victim count has almost doubled since 2019

Incogni survey reveals that 74% of respondents say internet safety has not improved over the past two years. Their fears are not unfounded: 9 out of 10 of those surveyed have experienced scam attempts, and 8 out of 10 say they have experienced personal data breaches. 

The Data Breach Investigation Report shows that 8 out of 10 data thefts happened because of so-called “human factors”. Aside from being careless online a lot of people fall victim to crime because their data gets leaked by companies they entrusted that data to. According to the cyber security company Surfshark the yearly cybercrime victim count has almost doubled since 2019, from 53 to 97. And financial losses grew from 400.000$ to almost 788.000$ per hour.

The past two years—some context

Since 2020, the situation surrounding online privacy has, for the most part, been business as usual. Data brokers—companies that collect and trade in users’ personal information—have continued to do a roaring trade in the US. During this time, the total estimated number of data brokers worldwide reached a staggering 4,000. These companies operate in an industry that’s worth an estimated $200 billion.

Over these two years, some data brokers were fined for selling personal data to scammers while others completely failed to secure their databases (including one that contained data on 235 million social media profiles)—hardly inspiring confidence among internet users.

One of the more notable incidents of 2020 involved Microsoft allowing 250 million customer records to be exposed. Last year saw multiple data breaches containing billions of individual records—the largest being Comcast, which left a database of 1.5 million records exposed. This year, at least five US healthcare providers have already suffered data breaches—the largest of which exposed roughly 2 million Americans’ private data, including SSNs and medical information.

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) has continued to lead the way on the data protection front over these past two years. The vast majority of Americans, however, are essentially left to fend for themselves by approaching each data broker individually or seeking help from third parties.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Incogni’s survey results suggest that the protection of private data is something that Americans would rather a third party handle and suggest that the Government is not doing enough to protect their privacy online. While 62% of respondents had never asked a company to remove their personal data, 71% believe that tech companies ought to be more rigorously regulated when handling such data.

What is surprising is the extent to which respondents are in agreement when it comes to the desire for greater regulation, between the sexes and across state lines.

What does the future hold?

Looking at the conditions needed for change to take place, an analysis of the survey results shows that increased awareness of the problem correlates with more informed decision-making, more pressure on legislators, and a more proactive stance on privacy protection.

Methodology: a survey of Internet users from 6 U.S. states: CA, CO, FL, NY, TX, VA (N=2310), May 2022

About Incogni is a data privacy tool from the cybersecurity company Surfshark that periodically sends official data removal requests to personal information brokers on behalf of its clients. The Incogni team is equipped with the legal experience customers may not have. Instead of having to read through reams of legalese and having to remember which brokers answered their emails at all, Incogni subscribers can simply monitor the process via regular updates.

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