The number of data breaches grew to over 250 incidents last year from under 160 in 2012, resulting in more than 552 million identities becoming exposed in 2013.
About 93 million identities were exposed in 2012 as a result of data breaches.
Cybercriminals used these data breaches to steal consumers' credit card information, birth dates, government ID numbers, phone numbers, financial information, login and passwords, and other personal information.
"One mega breach can be worth 50 smaller attacks. While the level of sophistication continues to grow among attackers, what was surprising last year was their willingness to be a lot more patient – waiting to strike until the reward is bigger and better," Symantec Regional Manager (Rest of Africa) Sheldon Hand said.
Targeted attacks were up 91 per cent and lasted an average of three times longer compared to 2012.
Personal assistants and those working in public relations were the two most targeted professions with cybercriminals using them as a stepping stone toward higher-profile targets like celebrities or business executives.
"Nothing breeds success like success – especially if you're a cybercriminal. The potential for huge paydays means large-scale attacks are here to stay," Hand said.
Companies of all sizes need to re-examine, re-think and possibly re-architect their security posture, Hand added.