The Annual Report Data Breach Investigations that is compiled by Verizon has revealed that hacktivists stole more data than cybercriminals in 2011. This is a significant change in recent trends as previous findings reported that cybercriminals had stolen the most data within a year. It is reported that hacktivists stole 58% of the data that was stolen during 2011.
For those who are unsure of the difference between a hacktivists and a cybercriminal, a hacktivist conducts a hack as a form of political protest or to help advance political activities whilst a cybercriminal sole aim is to hack for financial gains.
The Verizon report categorised 855 hacks which had taken place around the world and which resulted in a total of 174 million records being stolen. The report detailed that the hacks originated from 36 different countries. This is certainly a concern as the 2010 report detailed that the hacks that had occurred during that year originated from 22 countries. The report also revealed that countries in Eastern Europe were held accountable for 70% of the hacks while those in North America were held accountable for less than 25%.
A key finding within the report was that 79% of attacks were opportunistic and that only 4% of the total cases were seen as challenging for the hackers. This surely has alarm bells ringing for those involved as it shows that there is a desperate need for everyone to tighten up their security measures. Simple measures such as ensuring that stronger passwords are used can help as it is estimated that 97% of the hacks could have been avoided without the implementation of complex or expensive measures.
Wade Baker who is the Director of Research and Intelligence at Verizon believes that a change in hacktivists intent and reasoning is the main reason for their rise to the top. Wade stated “Hacktivism has been around for some time but it’s mainly been website defacements. In 2011 it was more about going to steal a bunch of information from a company.”
Hacktivists groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec have been accredited with many of the attacks that were conducted in 2011. It is believed that attacks carried out by these two groups are not as common but are harder to prevent as they take their time to develop specific methods for each target which results in greater rewards.
The threat that is posed by cybercriminals is still very prominent and they continue to test the internet defences of large companies, ready to pounce on any weaknesses that they find. Wade believes that despite fewer firms now going out of business after a data loss incident, the implementation of sterner internet defences and stricter regulations is needed to challenge the hackers.
Every day, it is becoming more vital for companies to back up their data appropriately with a robust solution and the knowledge that they can restore their data. The art of hacking is spreading across the world and is set to continue as the rewards become greater and therefore the need for a strong internet defence and data backup solution increases.