More than 1,500 data breaches led to at least 1 billion data records being compromised in 2014 alone, according to a report from Gemalto. It's a 49 percent increase in data breaches and 78 percent increase in data records theft year-over-year, with attacks expected to increase even higher in the future.
Cybersecurity experts warn that hackers are changing their tactics, with a focus on stealing personal information which can be collected - and used - at later dates. Fifty-four percent of all data breaches in 2014 focused on identity theft, including financial data, which led all other categories - with attack focus beginning to change.
"Not only are data breach numbers rising, but the breaches are becoming more severe," said Tsion Gonen, VP of strategy for identity and data protection at Gemalto. "Being breached is not a question of 'if' but 'when.' Breach prevention and threat monitoring can only go so far and do not always keep the cyber criminals out."
Stealing information can lead to fraudulent credit accounts being opened, along with false identities created to be sold on the black market.