As chief information officers and their teams become more comfortable integrating advanced technology into companies' day-to-day operations, it could be tempting to assume that the tide will begin to turn against data breaches. With a better grasp of everything from cloud computing to big data storage and analytics, organizations appear poised to take control of their own digital destiny.
However, for every step corporate data managers make, cybercriminals respond in kind. Therefore, instead of decreasing, the amount of data lost is actually on the rise year over year. This worrying trend isn't a call to abandon cutting-edge tech use, which would be impossible at this point. Instead, it's a reminder that data breach protection is relevant and potentially necessary today.
The Year (So Far) In Review
"More records were lost or stolen in the first half of 2017 than the entire 2016 calendar year."
The book hasn't closed on 2017 yet, but it's already possible to declare that this year's data loss numbers will exceed those of 2016. This worrying statistic comes from CSO Online contributor Jason Hart, who noted that there were more records lost or stolen in data breaches in the first half of 2017 than the entire 2016 calendar year. The six-month total of 1.9 billion records reflects the expanding scale of losses as companies' databases increase in size. One mistake or attack can lead directly to a staggering amount of data exposure.
Hart explained that according to the Breach Level Index, most of the losses in early 2017 were caused by outside sources. That represents a 23 percent increase from 2016, offering a reminder that IT departments should be ready to deal with cyberattacks specifically designed to steal or expose their data.
As for what these digital intruders are after, personal information used in identity theft remains the main commodity. Nearly two-thirds of the recorded breaches - 74 percent - were carried out to steal individuals' identities. Once hackers have obtained these details, such as Social Security Numbers, they can carry out bank or tax fraud to attempt to steal money.
Many Forms of Data Loss
In recapping some of 2017's largest and most consequential data loss incidents, ZDNet highlighted the many ways data can become lost or exposed today. For example, records can be exposed to the public by irresponsible placement on an unprotected server. Sometimes, the data isn't even being held by the company that generated it - third-party partnerships today often include the exchange of sensitive data as businesses use data analytics and related processes to become more responsive to customer needs.
In other examples from this year's roll call of attacks, malware was embedded in legitimate software and downloaded by unsuspecting users. This tactic of using a real, trusted application as a Trojan horse for data theft can get around common wisdom about only using reliable solutions. Other hackers are more direct, breaking directly into databases and taking massive amounts of personal data. Sometimes they attempt to commit fraud with the content. In other cases, they sell it on the dark web.
Protection Remains Relevant
The costs associated with a data breach can include reputation damage, loss of employee morale and the financial losses that come from spending time, effort and budget cleaning up the aftermath. The threat of data loss hasn't vanished from the IT world as companies have become more tech-savvy, which means there is still a strong case for protective services designed to minimize damage in the case of an attack or other type of breach.
IT leaders who turn their backs on such measures because they are assuming they won't be targeted, or that their firewalls are impenetrable, may realize too late that data loss today remains at epidemic levels, making it important to be prepared.
Contact Identity Guard Business Solutions today to learn about breach services.