Data breaches – new report shows no organisation is immune

Financially-motivated e-crime and state-affiliated espionage campaigns are the two top causes of data breaches in organisations, according to a new report published this week

The Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report draws on data from 19 organisations including the European CyberCrime Center. It includes data from 19 global security organizations with an analysis of a 47,000+ security incidents and 621 confirmed breaches. The Report also offers new insight into data thieves and their motives.

Although 93% of the breaches were attributable to outsiders, a significant proportion (14%) originated from insiders alone or insiders working with external agents. Attempts to access or harm information assets intentionally without authorisation by circumventing or thwarting logical security mechanisms (labelled "hacking" in the report" accounted for 52% of incidents.

Of these, 22% related to the use of web applications.

“The bottom line is that unfortunately, no organization is immune to a data breach in this day and age,” said Wade Baker, principal author of the Data Breach Investigations Report series. “We have the tools today to combat cybercrime, but it’s really all about selecting the right ones and using them in the right way.

“In other words, understand your adversary – know their motives and methods, and prepare your defenses accordingly and always keep your guard up, “ Baker said.

Key findings

The report concludes

  • data breach investigations reportThe top causes for all breaches are  financially-motived cybercrime (75 percent) followed by state-affiliated espionage campaigns (20 percent).
  • Hactivist incidents remained steady but the amount of data stolen decreased as they shifted to other forms of attacks, such as distributed denial of service attacks.
  • Victims represented a wide range of industries, from financial organizations to manufacturing, transportation and utilities.
  • 38 percent of breaches impacted larger organizations and represented 27 different countries.
  • External attacks remain largely responsible for data breaches with 92 percent of them attributable to outsiders and 14 percent committed by insiders.
  • Hacking is the primary way breaches are occurring  - hacking was a factor in 52 percent of data breaches.
  • 76 percent of network intrusions exploited weak or stolen credentials (user name/password).
  • The proportion of breaches incorporating social tactics such as phishing was four-times higher in 2012, which the report found directly related to the tactic’s widespread use in targeted espionage campaigns.

E RADAR's Will Roebuck said

"Every organisation is facing an increasing threat from online criminals who think it's their absolute right to steal, break or corrupt their business assets. Small and medium-sized businesses are at particular risk - those hard working individuals and companies which are growing us out of recession."

"Organisations need to get smart, and quick. That's why E RADAR is working with ISAME* to raise awareness and give them peace of mind when it comes to online security," Roebuck said

E RADAR has just established a new online E-crime Centre packed full of information and other resources to help organisations doing business electronically.

IASME is an information assurance programme developed for SMEs .