Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Verizon Business 2009 Data Breach Study Finds Significant Rise in Targeted Attacks

More electronic records were breached in 2008 than the previous four years combined, fueled by a targeting of the financial services industry and a strong involvement of organized crime, according to the "2009 Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report" (DBIR) released this week.


This second annual study -- based on data analyzed from Verizon Business' actual caseload comprising 285 million compromised records from 90 confirmed breaches -- revealed that corporations fell victim to some of the largest cybercrimes ever during 2008. The financial sector accounted for 93 percent of all such records compromised last year, and a staggering 90 percent of these records involved groups identified by law enforcement as engaged in organized crime.


"The compromise of sensitive information increased dramatically in 2008, and it's past time to be vigilant about enterprise security," said Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president of research and intelligence for Verizon Business Security Solutions. "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."


Verizon Business said it witnessed an explosion of attacks in 2008 targeting personal identification number (PIN) information together with associated credit and debit accounts. The geographic distribution of external data breach sources continue to show high activity in Eastern Europe, East Asia and North America. In fact, the 2009 report shows that these regions accounted for 82 percent of all external attacks.


Some key findings of the 2009 Report:

  • Most data breaches investigated were caused by external sources. Seventy-four percent of breaches resulted from external sources, while 32 percent were linked to business partners. Only 20 percent were caused by insiders, a finding that may be contrary to certain widely held beliefs.


  • Most breaches resulted from a combination of events rather than a .single action. Sixty-four percent of breaches were attributed to hackers who used a combination of methods. In most successful breaches, the attacker exploited some mistake committed by the victim, hacked into the network, and installed malware on a system to collect data.


  • In 69 percent of cases, the breach was discovered by third parties. The ability to detect a data breach when it occurs remains a huge stumbling block for most organizations. Whether the deficiency lies in technology or process, the result is the same. During the last five years, relatively few victims have discovered their own breaches.


  • Nearly all records compromised in 2008 were from online assets. Despite widespread concern over desktops, mobile devices, portable media and the like, 99 percent of all breached records were compromised from servers and applications.


  • Roughly 20 percent of 2008 cases involved more than one breach. Multiple distinct entities or locations were individually compromised as part of a single case, and remarkably, half of the breaches consisted of interrelated incidents often caused by the same individuals.


A complete copy of the "2009 Data Breach Investigations Report" is available at http://www.verizonbusiness.com/resources/security/reports/2009_databreach_rp.p df.
http://www.verizon.com

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