Report Shows Data Breaches Tripled In 2020

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL ( – With more business going virtual, crippling cyberattacks and data breaches are a growing concern to which even the U.S. government is not immune. According to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ data breach website, the amount of breaches reported has been steadily increasing.

Over three times as many data breaches were reported in 2020 than were reported in 2019. In 2020, 546 reports were filed that included a total of 21,377,892 individual patient records – an average of 58,570 records per day. By comparison, 164 breaches were reported impacting a total of 23,202,659 records – less than half the records for 2020.

Healthcare providers were the entities that reported the most data breaches. In 2020, 420 healthcare providers filed reports, and in 2019 the total was 138. Business associates came in second for both years as well, with 66 reports in 2020, and 14 reports in 2019. For 2020, there was a significant increase in reports filed by health plans. In 2019, only 11 reports accounted for breaches filed by health plans but by 2020 that number rose to 59 reports. Healthcare claims clearinghouses only filed 1 report each year.

In 2020, the highest number of breaches were reported in September with a total of 78 reports, followed by October at 77 and December with 59 reports. In 2019, the most reports were filed in November and December, totaling 21 reports each month.

California reported the most breaches in 2020 at 48 reports, followed by New York at 43, and Texas at 42 reports. In 2019, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Texas were the top states reporting breaches. New York reported 12 incidents, followed by Illinois, Ohio and Texas which all reported 11 incidents each.

In 2020, hacking and IT incidents were the number one reason reported, at 368 reports. Unauthorized access or disclosure came in second at 118 reports, and thefts came in third with 35 reports. In 2019, hacking and IT incidents accounted for the largest portion of reports at 136, followed by unauthorized access at 20 reports.

So far this year in a little over two weeks, 2 breach reports have already been filed, impacting 36,876 records. Both reports were filed by healthcare providers. In 2019, the first breach report was not submitted until the 18th of January. In 2020, a total of 6 reports had been filed by the 14th of January.

Considering the trend from last year and the recent hacking incident of government computers, it would not be surprising to see 2021 reports increase in the coming months.

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