+200m American records compromised in top data broker breaches

Data brokers sit on a treasure trove of personal data, including demographic details, court and criminal records, and Social Security Numbers. The biggest data broker hack ever led to the exposure of nearly 180 million user records.

“No data breach is small if it includes your data,” a data privacy tool Incogni, powered by Surfshark, said after analyzing the most significant data breaches between 2012-2021.

The analyzed ten hacks of data brokers affected 445 million user records. The US came as the most affected country, with nearly 210 million American records exposed.

Essentially, data brokers are companies that collect, process, and sell or distribute personal information. According to Incogni, the traded data might occasionally be very personal and include full demographic and contact information, court and criminal records, financial information, and even Social Security numbers. In some cases, data brokers even collect info on family members and business associates.

Biggest data broker breaches to date

Incogni’s researchers analyzed 506 registered, US-based data brokers and found that 23 (4.5%) of these companies had suffered data breaches. While 2020 was a record year with nine reported incidents, there were no hacks last year. Or at least it seems so since data may still be coming in.

“Data breaches are not like lightning: they can very much strike in the same place twice, if not multiple times. (In fact, it’s the same with lightning.) For example, T-Mobile experienced a total of five data breaches, suffering one a year, each year between 2018 and 2021, and two in 2020. Acxiom, LexisNexis, and Dun & Bradstreet have also reported more than one data breach each,” Incogni said.