by adgrooms on January 23, 2020

We have been working on a report looking at a decade of reported healthcare data breaches. In the last few posts, we have looked at the types and locations of breaches in terms of impact and changes over time. In this post, we are taking a look at trends of breaches including the number of incidents and the number of individuals affected.

The average number of incidents per year has steadily risen as seen in the scatter graph with each dot representing a month and year. The beginning of the data shows average breaches per month at well under 20 increasing to almost 40 at the end of the period. For the most part, monthly totals don't deviate very far from the trend line. However, we can see some of the months in 2018-2019 showing numbers of incidents well above the average, with nearly 60 reported incidents in August 2019.

Number of Incidents - 10 Year Trend

The following chart shows us the overall number of individuals affected since 2009 using points every four months. We added a trend line, but it’s hard to see because of the scale of the chart. The surges are primarily due to hacking/IT incidents affecting network servers where large amounts of data can be affected in a single incident.

Individuals Affected by Breaches - 10 Year Trend

Focusing in on the 1-10 million individuals affected range, we can more clearly see the trend line increasing. The average number of individuals affected has tripled since 2009. It is also showing us that several months have peaked over 1 million individuals affected since the middle of 2018.

Individuals Affected by Breaches - 10 Year Trend Focused on 1-10 Million

Here is a closer look at individuals affected per month with a cutoff of 1 million people. The trend line for the 10-year average is now visible starting in the upper left corner. This shows that even in the months with the lowest numbers, thousands of individuals are affected by breaches.

Individuals Affected by Breaches - 10 Year Trend Focused on Less Than 1 Million

This overall look at the breach numbers for both the number of incidents and the individuals affected shows increasing trends. We will look at some specific cases in the next post to increase awareness of the different ways a breach can happen.