Data Breaches Expose 170 Million Government Records Since 2014, Study Shows

A total of 168,962,628 government records have been exposed in 443 breaches since 2014, according to a new study.

These were the findings by Comparitech, a technology research site, in its recently released study.  The study stated that the worst year was 2018 for data breaches, with 100 cases that involved 81,505,426 files.

Comparitech said that while data breaches are often associated with private companies, the government is also a frequent target. Attacks in federal and state agencies are often more alarming, as they store much more sensitive data, it added.

The website said these figures are not only exclusive to database breaches. Its analysis of the reports by the Identity Theft Resource Center also includes electronic and paper breaches. The reports recorded government data breaches since 2014.


Data Breaches Expose 170 Million Government Records Since 2014, Study Shows

The breaches come in different scopes and impacts. For instance, a flaw in the U.S. Postal Service exposed around 60 million records in 2018. This incident has placed the agency on the top of the list of the most significant US government breaches.

This case was not the first time hackers targeted the US Postal Office. In 2014, a cyberattack in the Postal Service’s network stole data of some 2.9 million customers. It also involved accessing 750,000 retirees’ and employees’ personal information.

The Office of Personnel Management ranked second with around 21 million records. The California Secretary of State, with an estimated 19.2 million records exposed, placed third.

Most Frequently Attacked Agencies

Among the agencies, hackers attack the Department of Health and Human Services the most since 2014. The department fall victim to 29 cases, involving 174,547 records. It was followed by Veterans Affairs, which had 33 incidents involving 113,786 records.


The third placer was City networks, which have also been vulnerable to attackers. Around 56 cities suffered data breaches during this period, impacting 244,440 records.

States With Most Attacks

Washington, D.C., home of many federal government offices, has the suffered the most attacks per state. A total of 37 cases affecting 95,166,900 records took place here since 2014.

California comes in second with the highest total number of cases at 57. However, at 24,299,303, the state only less than a third as many records were affected compared to Washington D.C.

Texas came in third Texas with 25 cases affecting 3,423,326 records.

Hackers also targeted smaller states. In some cases, millions of records were affected, more than in the bigger states. Alabama, for instance, has recorded only five cases since 2014 but had exposed a notable 1,397,389 records.


Only Hawaii, Nebraska, and West Virginia have not had experienced a single data breach since 2014.