Verizon: Data Loss through Cyber Attacks at All-Time Low

According to the Verizon 2011 Data Breach Investigations Report, Data loss through cyber attacks declined in 2010, but the total number of breaches was higher than ever.




These findings continue to demonstrate that businesses and consumers must remain vigilant in implementing and maintaining security practices, according to Verizon.




The number of compromised records involved in data breaches investigated by Verizon and the U.S. Secret Service dropped from 144 million in 2009 to only 4 million in 2010, representing the lowest volume of data loss since the report’s launch in 2008.  Yet this year’s report covers approximately 760 data breaches, the largest caseload to date.




According to the report, the seeming contradiction between the low data loss and the high number of breaches likely stems from a significant decline in large-scale breaches, caused by a change in tactics by cybercriminals.  They are engaging in small, opportunistic attacks rather than large-scale, difficult attacks and are using relatively unsophisticated methods to successfully penetrate organizations. For example, only 3 percent of breaches were considered unavoidable without extremely difficult or expensive corrective action.




Outsiders are responsible for 92 percent of breaches, a significant increase from the 2010 findings.  Though the percentage of insider attacks decreased significantly over the previous year (16 percent versus 49 percent), this is largely due to the huge increase in smaller external attacks.  As a result, the total number of insider attacks actually remained relatively constant.


Hacking (50 percent) and malware (49 percent) were the most prominent types of attack, with many of those attacks involving weak or stolen credentials and passwords.  For the first time, physical attacks — such as compromising ATMs –appeared as one of the three most common ways to steal information, and constituted 29 percent of all cases investigated.




  Through our Data Breach Investigations Report series, Verizon continues to provide the industry with a first-hand look at cybercrime around the globe,” said Peter Tippett, vice president of security and industry solutions at Verizon.




  This year, we witnessed highly automated and prolific external attacks, low and slow attacks, intricate internal fraud rings, countrywide device-tampering schemes, cunning social engineering plots and more. And yet, at the end of day, we found once again that the vast majority of breaches can be avoided without extremely difficult, expensive security measures,” Tippet added.




Americans over the past several years have seen the significant impacts data breaches are having on our nation’s financial infrastructure.  Today cyber criminals are operating in nearly every civilized nation in the world, exposing Americans’ personal information, either stored or transmitted, to substantial risk,” said A.T. Smith, assistant director, U.S. Secret Service.




By participating in the Verizon 2011 Data Breach Investigations Report, the Secret Service is working closely with our private-sector partners to educate Americans about the threats of cyber criminals.  With the help of our Electronic Crimes Task Force partners, such as Verizon, we are studying technologies and trends to prevent and mitigate attacks against critical financial infrastructure,” Smith added.




Verizon Wireless recently announced  it will start offering faster 4G network service in the Columbia region on Thursday.  Verizon’s 4G service is 10 times faster than 3G technology.  A full-length movie that takes an hour to download on a 3G network will take a few minutes on 4G, she said. Books also will take a matter of seconds to download. Customers will need to buy hardware that is 4G capable to access the faster network.





By Team

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