A total of 5.3 million Indian online accounts faced data breaches in 2023, according to an annual report released on Monday by the private virtual network provider Surfshark.

Surfshark defines a data breach as: “When confidential and sensitive data gets exposed to unauthorized third parties.” Every breached or leaked email address used to register for online services is taken as a separate user account. These accounts may have been leaked with additional information such as passwords, phone numbers, internet protocol addresses, zip codes and data.

Around 10 Indian user accounts were leaked every minute in 2023, with four in every 1000 accounts being breached, said the report, which placed India in the fifth position on the list of countries that suffered the most data breaches in the year.

One of India’s biggest data breaches originated from the Indian apparel manufacturer Kewal Kiran Clothing in January 2023, with details of 12,32,580 user accounts leaked. The second largest data breach originated from the furniture and electronic appliance rental service RentoMojo in April, in which details of 11,63,135 user accounts were leaked.

In 2022, India had been ranked seventh on the global list with 12.3 million data breaches, with nine user accounts breached for every 1,000. Around 23 Indian user accounts were breached every minute in 2023.

“The breach rate in India is 56% lower in 2023 than it was in 2022, while the global trend shows an 18% decrease,” the report noted.

Globally, the report found, a total of 299.8 million user accounts were breached in 2023.

The United States comprised 32% of these with 96.7 million breaches, followed by Russia (78.4 million), France (10.5 million), Spain (7.8 million), India (5.3 million), Taiwan (4 million), Australia (3.5 million), Italy (3.4 million), the United Kingdom (3.3 million) and Brazil (3.3 million).

“As we look back on 2023, there's a positive trend in data breaches – a 20% decrease in affected accounts compared to 2022. Despite this improvement, 300 million users worldwide still experienced breaches,” says Agneska Sablovskaja, lead researcher at Surfshark. “Even a single account data leak can lead to unauthorised access, risking the misuse of personal information, potential identity or financial theft.”

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