Despite the implementation of advanced security programs, there is still increased data breaches being experienced around the world.
Information Age has reported a 75% increase in data breach cases in the last two years. In 2018, Facebook reported 29 million records of user data were compromised. In the same year, Twitter advised its 330 million users to change their passwords after they suspected a security breach.
These were not all for 2018. There were more breaches including Marriott Hotels customer data breach where a half-billion customer data was tampered with, the massive Equifax breach that saw 150 million customer credit information stolen, and the exposing of 14.8 million voter information in Texas.
Also, Australian organisations experienced a large number of data breaches in 2018. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), they received about 242 breach notifications from April to June.
According to the report, there was a drastic increase in notifications from February when eight notifications were recorded to June where the number of notifications had increased to 90 for that month.
Causes for increased data breaches
So, what prompted this drastic increase in data breaches? There are several sources of data breaches including malicious attacks, human error, and system failure.
According to the report from the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, malicious or criminal attacks accounted for 59% of the data breaches reported. The human error resulted in 36% of the attacks while system failures led to 5% of data breaches.
What is a malicious attack?
Recently, malicious or criminal attacks have been the major source of most data breaches. Malicious attacks are deliberate attempts by hackers to access their victims’ computers for financial and other benefits.
The major sources of malicious attacks include cyber-related attacks including phishing, brute-force attack, social engineering, ransomware, and malware.
The OAIC reiterated that credentials like usernames and passwords were the most targeted by phishing activities which remain the most common contributor to increased data breaches.
Dealing with malicious attacks
Malicious attacks have recently been successful mainly due to increased access to “malware-as-a-service”. The tools used by attackers are readily available on the Dark Web with customer support which makes it easier even for the low-skilled attackers to carry out cyber-attacks.
In spite of this, IT teams can do a lot to help counter malware attacks and prevent data breaches. First of all, the NDB scheme is a great way to enlighten companies about malicious attacks. Understanding these attacks is the best way to prevent them.
According to Angelene Falk, Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, organisations have to observe the security of their personal information. She states that raising cyber security should be a principal concern for organisations that deal with personal information of people.
It can be done using both technology and education. Companies should invest in ransomware prevention tools and teach their employees on the best practices of dealing with malicious attacks which includes detecting cyber activities and how to prevent them.
Malicious attacks have driven an increase in data breaches more than ever. Hackers are still working around the clock, so we should expect to see more data breaches in the future.
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