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According to estimates provided by the Ponemon Institute, data breaches in the last twelve months have exposed the personal information of about 110 million U.S. adults, with a staggering 432 million individual accounts compromised by attackers – and those estimates may be low.

“The exact number of exposed accounts is hard to pin down, because some companies – such as AOL and eBay – aren’t fully transparent about the details of their cyber breaches. But that’s the best estimate available with the data tracked by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CNNMoney’s own review of corporate disclosures,” CNNMoney reported.

The personal data exposed in breaches often includes details such as names, addresses, birth dates, and debit or credit card details, and the attackers are becoming more organized and sophisticated in their methodologies.

“Now attackers are very focused,” said Brendan Hannigan, who leads the security systems division at IBM. “There are teams of them, and they create malware to attack specific organizations.”

Recent breaches include:

  • 70 million Target customers’ personal information, plus 40 million credit and debit cards
  • 33 million Adobe user credentials, plus 3.2 million stolen credit and debit cards
  • 4.6 million Snapchat users’ account data
  • 3 million payment cards used at Michaels
  • 1.1 million cards from Neiman Marcus
  • “A significant number” of AOL’s 120 million account holders
  • Potentially all of eBay’s 148 million customers’ credentials

“It’s becoming more acute,” said Larry Ponemon, head of the Ponemon Institute. “If you’re not a data breach victim, you’re not paying attention.”

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