Photography by Thomas Trutschel Photothek via Getty Images
By Chris Morris
March 2, 2016

Data breaches were on the decline in 2015, but that’s not necessarily the good news it sounds like.

Digital security firm Gemalto has released its 2015 Breach Level Index, finding that the total number of hacking incidents was 39% lower around the world than in 2014. However, the company noted, there were still nearly 708 million records compromised last year.

The company’s Breach Level Index pinpointed 1,673 data breaches in 2015. Since 2013, the report added, more than 3.6 billion records have been exposed.

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While there has been a reduction in the theft of certain kinds of financial information, the group noted hackers are increasingly becoming interested in more personal information from victims.

“In 2014, consumers may have been concerned about having their credit card numbers stolen, but there are built-in protections to limit the financial risks,” said Jason Hart, vice president and chief technology officer for data protection at Gemalto. “However, in 2015 criminals shifted to attacks on personal information and identity theft, which are much harder to remediate once they are stolen. … If consumers’ entire personal data and identities are being co-opted again and again by cyber thieves, trust will increasingly become the centerpiece in the calculus of which companies they do business with.”

Not surprisingly, the United States was the largest target for attacks. Gemalto said there were 1,222 domestic breaches last year. The U.K. was second with 154, followed by Canada with 59 and Australia with 42.

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