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More than 2.5 billion records stolen or compromised in 2017

More than 2.5 billion records stolen or compromised in 2017

Gemalto Breach Level Index highlights improperly secured databases in the cloud and internal threats were the fastest growing security risks for companies.

Gemalto today released the latest findings of the Breach Level Index, revealing that 2.6 billion records were stolen, lost or exposed worldwide in 2017, an 88% increase from 2016.

While data breach incidents decreased by 11%, 2017 was the first year publicly disclosed breaches surpassed more than two billion compromised data records since the Breach Level Index began tracking data breaches in 2013.

Over the past five years, nearly 10 billion records have been lost, stolen or exposed, with an average of five million records compromised every day. Of the 1,765 data breach incidents in 2017, identity theft represented the leading type of data breach, accounting for 69% of all data breaches. Malicious outsiders remained the number one cybersecurity threat last year at 72% of all breach incidents. Companies in the healthcare, financial services and retail sectors were the primary targets for breaches last year. However, government and educational institutions were not immune to cyber risks in 2017, making up 22% of all breaches.

The Breach Level Index* serves as a global database that tracks and analyzes data breaches, the type of data compromised and how it was accessed, lost or stolen. Based on data breach reports collected in the Breach Level Index, the major 2017 highlights include:

  • Human error a major risk management and security issue: Accidental loss, consisting of improper disposal of records, misconfigured databases and other unintended security issues, caused 1.9 billion records to be exposed. A dramatic 580% increase in the number of compromised records from 2016.
  • Identity theft is still the number one type of data breach: Identity theft was 69% of all data breach incidents. Over 600 million records were impacted resulting in a 73% increase from 2016.
  • Internal threats are increasing: The number of malicious insider incidents decreased slightly. However, the amount of records stolen increased to 30 million, a 117% increase from 2016.
  • What a nuisance: The number of records breached in nuisance type attacks increased by 560% from 2016. The Breach Level Index defines a data breach as a nuisance when the compromised data includes basic information such as name, address and/or phone number. The larger ramification of this type of breach is often unknown, as hackers use this data to orchestrate other attacks.

“The manipulation of data or data integrity attacks pose an arguably more unknown threat for organizations to combat than simple data theft, as it can allow hackers to alter anything from sales numbers to intellectual property. By nature, data integrity breaches are often difficult to identify and in many cases, where this type of attack has occurred, we have yet to see the real impact,” said Jason Hart, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Data Protection at Gemalto.

“In the event that the confidentiality, or privacy, of the data is breached, an organization must have controls, such as encryption, key management and user access management, in place to ensure that integrity of the data isn’t tampered with and it can still be trusted. Regardless of any concerns around manipulation, these controls would protect the data in situ and render it useless the moment it’s stolen.”

Data Breaches by Type

Identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 69% of all incidents constituting 26% of breached data in 2017. The second most prevalent type of breach was access to financial data (16%). The number of lost, stolen or compromised records increased the most for nuisance type of data breaches (560%) which constituted 61% of all compromised data. Account access and existential type breaches decreased both in incidents and records from 2016.

Data Breaches by Industry

In 2017, the industries that experienced the largest number of data breach incidents were healthcare (27%), financial services (12%), education (11%) and government (11%). In terms of the amount of records lost, stolen or compromised, the most targeted sectors were government (18%), financial services (9.1%) and technology (16%).

Data Breaches by Source

Malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches, accounting for 72% of breaches, however making up only 23% of all compromised data. While accidental loss was the cause of 18% of data breaches, it accounted for 76% of all compromised records, an increase of 580% from 2016. Malicious insider breaches were 9% of the total number of incidents, however this breach source experienced a dramatic increase (117%) in the number of compromised or stolen records from 2016.

Jason Hart, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Data Protection at Gemalto, said:

“Companies can mitigate the risks surrounding a breach through a ‘security by design’ approach, building in security protocols and architecture at the beginning.”

“This will be especially important, considering in 2018 new government regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Australian Privacy Act (APA) go into effect. These regulations require companies to adapt a new mindset towards security, protecting not only their sensitive data but the privacy of the customer data they store or manage.”

More than 2.5 billion records stolen or compromised in 2017

*The Breach Level Index is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple dimensions, including the number of records compromised, the type of data, the source of the breach, how the data was used, and whether or not the data was encrypted. By assigning a severity score to each breach, the Breach Level Index provides a comparative list of breaches, distinguishing data breaches that are a not serious versus those that are truly impactful (scores run 1-10).
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