Data breaches increased by 20 percent in 2019

(PRESS RELEASE/Washington State Attorney General)

Attorney General Bob Ferguson released his fourth annual Data Breach Report. The report shows that data breaches increased by nearly 20 percent in 2019. The report also shows that breaches affected fewer Washingtonians in 2019 due to the relative size of the breaches.

Ferguson’s Data Breach Report relies on filings from businesses and state agencies that experienced breaches between July 2018 and July 2019. Washington law requires businesses and state agencies to report breaches affecting at least 500 Washingtonians to the Attorney General. That requirement stems from the passage of Attorney General Ferguson’s data breach legislation in 2015.

Between July 2018 and July 2019, data breaches impacted 390,000 Washingtonians. This represents a significant decrease from 2018, when data breaches impacted 3.4 million Washingtonians, mainly due to a mega-breach reported that year by credit-reporting firm Equifax. That breach alone affected more than 3.2 million Washingtonians and resulted in the largest-ever data breach enforcement action in United States history.

There were no mega-breaches affecting Washington residents in fiscal year 2019. The number of Washingtonians impacted by small to mid-size breaches more than doubled in 2019 — from 180,000 to 390,000.