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U.S. Data Breaches Dropped by 30 Percent in 2020

Breaches went down but costs went up, with an average data breach costing an organization $8.64 million.

Note: TDWI’s editors carefully choose vendor-issued press releases about new or upgraded products and services. We have edited and/or condensed this release to highlight key features but make no claims as to the accuracy of the vendor's statements.

The number of data breaches in the United States totaled 1,001 cases in 2020, a 32 percent drop year-over-year, according to data compiled by, a London-based financial educational hub for investors.

Within the past decade, data breaches in the United States skyrocketed. In 2005, companies and organizations across the country suffered 157 attacks, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center 2020 Breach Report.

By the end of 2010, this figure jumped to 662 and continued rising. Statistics show the number of data breaches in the United States peaked at 1,632 in 2017, a 265 percent increase in 10 years. After slipping to 1,257 in 2018, data breaches again jumped to 1,473 in 2019.

Although data breaches result from planned cyberattacks on an organization's database, data exposures or data leaks are caused by human errors such as weak internal cybersecurity.

Statistics show the number of data leaks in the United States peaked in 2009 and 2018 with over 223 and 471 million exposed sensitive records, respectively.

In 2019, the number of data exposures dropped to 164.6 million, almost three times less than in 2018. Statistics show the number of exposed records in the United States continued falling and hit almost 156 million last year, nine million less than in 2019.

U.S. Data Breaches Drop, Average Data Breach Cost Rises

The global average cost of a data breach has fluctuated between $3.5 million and $4 million in recent years. In 2020, it hit $3.86 million, a 1.5 percent drop year-over-year, revealed the Ponemon Institute's Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020 commissioned by IBM. The report also showed it usually took 280 days for an organization to spot and contain a breach, a day more than a year ago. However, statistics indicate these figures vary significantly based on the country and industry.

The healthcare industry tops the list of the most expensive data breaches with a $7.13 million average data breach cost, 84 percent more than the global average.

Analyzed by geography, the United States leads among all surveyed countries with an average data breach cost of $8.64 million in 2020, a 5.5 percent increase in a year. Statistics also show this figure surged by 60 percent in the past seven years, growing from $5.4 million in 2013.

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