Electronic record breaches hit 5-year high in 2008: Verizon

Financial services bears the brunt

Driven by increased organised crime activity, the number of electronic record breaches has hit a five-year high according to a new report from communications services provider Verizon Business.

The 2009 Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report, which analysed data from Verizon’s own caseload of 285 million comprised records from 90 confirmed breaches, finds that more electronic records were breached in 2008 than the previous four years combined.

According to the report, the financial services industry bore the brunt of these data breaches accounting for some 93 per cent of all compromised records, with some 90 per cent of these records involved groups engaged in organised crime. Financial services also counted for 30 per cent of all breaches analysed.

Rather than being caused by disgruntled employees, 74 per cent of breaches resulted from external sources the report said. These external data breach sources continue to show high activity in Eastern Europe (22 per cent), East Asia (18 per cent) and North America (15 per cent).

“Eastern Europe is known as a notorious haven for organised cybercrime outfits which played a major role in breaches throughout 2008,” Peter Tippett, vice president of research and intelligence at Verizon Business Security Solutions, said in a statement.

“We have a great deal of evidence that malicious activity from Eastern Europe is the work of organised crime. On the bright sight, efforts with law enforcement led to arrests in at least 15 cases (and counting) in 2008.”

Despite widespread concern over desktops, mobile devices, portable media and the like, 99 per cent of all breached records were attributable to compromised servers and applications, the report found.

Most breaches also resulted from a combination of events rather than a single action, the report found, with 64 per cent of breaches attributable to hackers using a combination of methods.

“This report should serve as another wake-up call that good security and a proactive approach are paramount to running a business in this day and age - particularly since the economic crisis is likely to trigger a further increase in criminal activity,” Tippett said.

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