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Cyberattacks Decline Slightly, Symantec Report Finds

Drop might seem counterintuitive given the high-profile breaches so far in 2011, as organizations suffer mostly in downtime, theft of employee identity data, and intellectual property

Organizations worldwide are suffering damages as a result of cyberattacks, but, interestingly, there has been a slight decline in these attacks during the past 12 months, according to a new report from Symantec.

More than 90 percent of the more than 3,300 respondents across 36 countries said they experienced tangible losses as a result of a hack, with 84 percent reporting financial loss to the cost of a breach. Around one-fifth lost at least $195,000 in breaches during the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, Symantec attributes the unexpected bright spot of a decline in breaches to organizations employing better cybersecurity defenses: More than 70 percent of organizations saw attacks in the past 12 months, a decline of 5 percent from 2010. And those that experienced an increasing frequency of attacks dropped from 29 percent in 2010 to 21 percent this year. While 100 percent last year reported losses from cyberattacks, 92 percent did so in 2011.

The trend seems counterintuitive given the rash of high-profile breaches this year.

Downtime (43 percent), theft of employee identity data (30 percent), and intellectual property (19 percent) were the top three losses, according to Symantec's "2011 State of Security Survey," published this week. The most costly dollar-wise were lost productivity (35 percent) and lost revenue (23 percent), followed by (at 17 percent each) loss of organization, customer, or employee data; a damaged reputation; and compliance costs after the attack.

Ashish Mohindroo, senior director of product marketing for Symantec, says the large majority suffering real losses from cyberattacks is significant. "Twenty percent lost $195,000: That's a hefty price to pay for a breach," he says.

Even so, more businesspeople are focused on security more than ever before, he notes. "In the past, that was delegated to IT," he says. According to the findings, more than one-third of the respondents said security is somewhat/significantly more important within the business than it was 12 months ago.

Hackers are the No. 1 threat worry, with about half of the respondents citing them, followed by well-meaning employees (46 percent).

A copy of the full report is available here (PDF) for download.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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