A recent report from Gemalto and Safenet, which led to the creation of the Breach Level Index website, has shown that a 49% increase in data breaches occurred during 2014 against the previous year – with a staggering 78% increase in the number of breached data records.

In over 1,500 breaches, around 1 billion records have been lost or stolen, with the majority happening within North America (78%). Europe falls into second place at 12%. Some of the most notable breaches that made the headlines last year are Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and Sony.

In Europe, the UK had 117 incidents making it the top scorer for European data breaches. With many financial services institutions based in London, the UK is an attractive target.

While the figures are quite astounding, the number of breaches that resulted in the hackers only getting their dirty hands on unusable, encrypted data (whole or part) increased from 1% to 4% in 2013.

It’s encouraging that organizations are taking data security seriously. Securing the perimeter is a necessity, but if that fails, any confidential stored data should be encrypted with proper key management systems in place. That way, in the event of a security breach, the data is utterly useless to the perpetrator.

Click here to read the 2014 Breach Level Index report.