Over 5 billion personal records were leaked in Q1 of 2021

Anton P. | April 27, 2021

In these times of technology, everybody that uses the internet has a lot of personal information online. However, vicious cybercriminals find weaknesses in huge companies which hold sensitive data about you, and with a blink of an eye, it could be all stolen away.

According to the recent Atlas VPN findings, over 5 billion data records have already been leaked in 2021. One of the reasons for such a high number is the Compilation of Many Breaches (COMB) which compromised about 3.27 billion data records alone.

The numbers are based on the Hackmageddon data, where the most significant cybersecurity breaches of 2021 are recorded constantly.

Cybercriminals were the most active in January as it had the highest number of total breaches — 23. Cyberattacks hit companies such as Facebook, Raychat, Serasa, and much more. In total more than 1.4 billion personal records were leaked in these attacks.

The worst month in records lost so far this year was February due to the vast COMB breach. Besides that, two more huge cyberattacks in Brazil affected two mobile operator companies Vivo and Claro. Overall in February, there were 12 breaches and 3.4 billion personal records were leaked which is more than half compared to the total amount.

March has been the quietest month in terms of cyberattacks. Only 7 breaches exposing 153 million personal records took place in March. The most notable one happened in India, where private information of nearly 100 million users of the Indian mobile payment startup MobiKwik was leaked on the dark web.

Most significant breaches of 2021

Cybercriminals indeed did not hold back in the first quarter of this year. To better understand data breaches, let us talk about the ones that exposed the most sensitive information.

COMB is considered one of the biggest data breaches of all time exposing 3.27 billion personal records. It is made up of email and password combinations that have already been leaked before. It includes major sites such as Netflix and LinkedIn. The hacked data was shared on a hacking forum as an interactive database.

The second significant breach this year came from Facebook. A total of 533 million users were affected, which is about one-fifth of the entire social network’s user pool. Hackers published phone numbers and account details on a publicly accessible cybercrime forum. 

Facebook was already fined before by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019 for a record-breaking 5 billion dollars due to previous breaches.

Another impactful breach happened to a popular Iranian business and social messenger — Raychat. The breach exposed its entire database of 267 million accounts with names, emails, passwords, metadata, and encrypted chats. A bot attack then destroyed it. Luckily, the company had its user’s data backed up in this case, and it was restored after.

The largest personal data leakage in Brazilian history happened in January, affecting 220 million people. Serasa, which belongs to the UK-listed Experian, the world’s largest credit data group, suffered from this cyberattack. Data including social security details, vehicle registrations, and social media login details were leaked on the dark web.

Also worth mentioning is more than 200 million record leaks of Chinese citizens. Researchers from Cyble, a cybercrime monitoring company, discovered this exposed data for sale on the dark web. The alleged leaks could be related to Gongan County in South China, Weibo — Chinese Twitter, and instant messaging software QQ.

Even though the first two months in 2021 were not the best in terms of cybersecurity, the month of March gives us hope that the risks of data breaches can be reduced. After seeing that even such prominent companies as Facebook or LinkedIn can still be hacked, other high-profile organizations should take more preemptive measures to prevent cyberattacks.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.


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