About 41.6 million user accounts have been leaked in data breaches across the first three months of 2023, a new study from cybersecurity company Surfshark has found.
That's about one new user account leaked for every second of the first quarter of the year.
Sounds bad, right? But it's actually good news in comparison to the previous quarter: The global number of breached users has dropped by 49% since the final months of 2022. The ongoing cybersecurity arms race is heading in the right direction in 2023 — at least, so far.
Russia Saw the Most Breaches, with the US in Second Place
Surfshark's study tracked 29,000 publicly available databases, logging, and anonymizing all exposed email addresses before passing the data on to the Surfshark research team for a statistical analysis of the findings.
Russian data breaches added up to one sixth of the total for the first quarter of 2023, putting the country in first place. The US and Taiwan came in second and third for the most user accounts breached during that time period. France and Spain made fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Africa Is the Region Doing the Best in 2023
Zooming out to look at regions as a whole, Surfshark's researchers found that Africa had seen its total breaches decrease the fastest. The country had just 557,600 user accounts exposes in the most recent quarter.
That's a massive decrease of 33 times since the last quarter of 2022, when the region saw 18.6 million leaked accounts.
While breaches declined quarter-over-quarter overall, the biggest jumps in breach activity were in three Asian countries: Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. Despite this competition, Europe remained the most affected region.
Over 40 Million Accounts Exposed
Granted, losing another several dozen million user accounts to data breaches in 2023 isn't exactly good.
At this point, it's easy to become numb to the large amounts of data exposures, but they remain concerning, as bad actors can use the information to pick out new targets for hacking campaigns to turn a quick buck.
“The fact that over 40 million accounts were breached in just a few months is still a cause for concern. Those whose data was compromised are at an increased risk of being targeted by cybercriminals as their personal information can be utilized for phishing attacks, fraud, identity theft, and other serious cybercrimes.” – Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher at Surfshark
The solution remains the same as always: Change your passwords often, and make sure they're long enough to remain secure.
But since the average person has dozens or even hundreds of online accounts to remember, everyone wants to reuse their insecure passwords. Getting a password management tool will help you fight that urge: It will remember your passwords for you, while keeping them all safe, and the best options can even flag suspicious websites before you fall for them.