Healthcare has outstripped retail as the most breached business sector, according to a new report by digital security company Gemalto, equaled only by government as the most targeted by hackers.

In its 2015 First Half Review, Gemalto said healthcare saw 187 data breaches in just the first half of the year, making up 21 percent of the total number of breaches across all sectors.

Insurance company Anthem led the pack with its massive cyber attack at the start of February 2015, in which nearly 80 million Anthem members had their personal data stolen.

Across all sectors, Gemalto counted 888 data breaches in the first half of 2015, compromising 245.9 million records worldwide.

As for the number of data records lost, healthcare took the lead with 84.4 million records lost – 34 percent of the total.

This represents a dramatic shift from the past few years when both healthcare and government had relatively small numbers of records involved in data breaches, according to Gemalto. For example, in the second half of 2014, healthcare accounted for only 5.2 percent of stolen records and government accounted for only 2.8 percent.

The leading type of data breach in the first half of 2015 was identity theft, accounting for 472 data breaches. That represented more than half of first half of 2015 attacks and nearly three-quarters of compromised data records. Five of the top 10 breaches in the first half of 2015, including the top three, were identity theft breaches.

"It's apparent that a new approach to data security is needed if organizations are to stay ahead of the attackers and more effectively protect against data breaches in the future," the report said. "In today's environment, the core of any security strategy needs to shift from breach prevention to breach acceptance. And, when one approaches security from a breach-acceptance viewpoint, the world becomes a relatively simple place where securing data, not the perimeter, is the top priority."

Network perimeter security technologies offered an added layer of protection, the report said, but cautioned against relying on them as the foundation for information security strategies. "Unfortunately, there is really no foolproof way to prevent a breach from occurring," the report said. "Alarmingly, market trends show that the lion's share of organizations have no plans to change this approach."

The full report is at