Endpoint
1/19/2017
03:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Number Of Data Breach Disclosures Jumped 40% in 2016

Though there were no mega breaches, 2016 had more breaches on record than any previous year, according to a new report.

Last year witnessed few data breaches of the kind that rocked 2015 when organizations like Anthem, the Office of Personnel Management and Ashley Madison reported security incidents involving tens of millions of personal records. Still, 2016 was a pretty bad year for data breaches.

New data from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout show that 2016, in fact, had more reported breaches than any previous year.

A total of 1,093 security incidents involving loss of sensitive data were disclosed last year. The number represented a 40 percent jump compared to the 780 breaches reported in 2015. In all, about 36.7 million records were exposed in the breaches, which the two organizations described as any incident where an individual’s name along with their driver’s license number, Social Security Number, bank or financial account data, medical records and credit or debit card data is exposed.

In keeping with recent trends, the business sector including retail organizations, suffered the most number of breaches and accounted for 495 or 45.2% of all reported incidents. Healthcare organizations, with 377 breaches or 34.5% of the reported total, ranked second in the list of most breached organizations, followed by educational institutions with 98, and then government and military entities with 72 reported incidents.

In terms of raw numbers, banks and credit card companies had fewer breaches (52) than organizations in any of the other sectors included in the data breach report. However, that number does not tell the full story of the extensive financial damage caused to several banks in 2016 by attackers who exploited the SWIFT messaging network to illegally transfer huge sums of money to offshore accounts.

Hacking, payment card skimming, and phishing attacks represented the leading cause for data loss for the eighth year in a row, according to CyberScout and the ITRC. Combined, the three attack methods accounted for 55.5% of all reported security breaches last year, or nearly 18% higher than in 2015.

Many of the phishing attacks — the report does not specify an exact number — involved CEO business email compromise schemes, and resulted in the exposure of highly sensitive corporate data including those related to state and federal tax filings.

Non-malicious slip-ups, like accidentally sending out an email with sensitive customer data or employees negligently posting confidential data on a public facing website, accounted for a surprisingly high 9.2% — or nearly 1,000 — of the reported incidents last year.

Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of ITRC says it is not entirely clear if the higher number of data breaches in 2016 occurred because there were more actual breaches, or simply because more of them are being reported under new disclosure requirements.

“It is our opinion that both are factors here, but that it is more likely that breaches are actually being discovered due to more robust security measures being in place,” she says.

While the business sector was most impacted last year, it is important keep in mind that over time other sectors have been impacted more heavily for different reasons, Velasquez points out. At one time, for instance, financial companies were big targets since attackers perceived them as having a lot of valuable information. In recent years, the medical and business sectors have gone back and forth as favorite targets.

A study released in December by TrapX showed that attacks on healthcare organizations for instance, grew 63% in 2016 and included some major incidents such as a breach at Banner Health that exposed 3.6 million records, and another at Newkirk Products which compromised 3.4 million records.

 “As the thieves come up with more creative ways to monetize our data, different data becomes more valuable, hence the thieves change their targets,” Velasquez says.

Data breaches have become more or less the third certainty in life, adds Adam Levin, chairman and founder of CyberScout. “Businesses of every size and stripe are under assault practically every minute of every day,” Levin says.

“As defenders, they must get everything right while an attacker need find only one point of vulnerability … and make no mistake, foreign and domestic attackers are well armed, fully weaponized and in war mode.”

Related Content:

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Shantaram
50%
50%
Shantaram,
User Rank: Strategist
1/20/2017 | 12:26:42 PM
Re: 192.168.0.1
Thanks, nice thoughts!
kbannan100
50%
50%
kbannan100,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/19/2017 | 11:30:13 PM
Data loss
There's a Ponemon study that finds 62 percent of respondents said they are "pessimistic about their ability to prevent the loss of data contained in printer mass storage and/or printed hard copy documents." I wonder how many breaches came from something simple yet underprotected such as printers? Also from the study: "56 percent of respondents believe employees in their organizations don't see printers and hard copy documents as an area of high security risk." 

Add people who don't see printers as a risk to the fact that there are still printers that are unsecured or unpatched and you've got a problem. 

--Karen Bannan for IDG and HP
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: At least with wireless, my coffee's more secure.
Current Issue
5 Security Technologies to Watch in 2017
Emerging tools and services promise to make a difference this year. Are they on your company's list?
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.