Data theft in 2017: 5 things you should know

20 Sep 2017

Data theft is on the rise. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

A report released by digital security firm Gemalto sheds light on data breaches and compromises in the first six months of this year.

Gemalto today (20 September) released the latest findings from its Breach Level Index, and it’s clear that poor internal security practices and identity theft have taken their toll, with a whopping 164pc increase in stolen, compromised or lost records reported in the first half of the year.

As it seems that data breaches show no sign of slowing down, here are five things you should know.

What is the Breach Level Index?

A global database that tracks and monitors data breaches and their severity based on multiple dimensions, the Breach Level Index looks at number of records compromised, data type, breach source, how data was used and whether it was encrypted.

More than 9bn records have been exposed since 2013, when it began benchmarking publicly disclosed breaches.

What was the most common type of data breach?

Identity theft leads the pack when it comes to breach varieties encountered in the first half of 2017, accounting for 74pc of all breaches – up almost 50pc on the previous report’s findings.

The number of compromised records from account access attacks dipped by 46pc, after a significant spike in the full-year report for 2016.

Which industries were hit hardest?

Across the board, most of the industries tracked by the Breach Level Index reported a more-than-100pc increase in the number of stolen, lost or compromised records. Education saw the largest increase in breaches (103pc) due to an insider attack on one of China’s largest private education companies.

Healthcare organisations dealt with the majority of the breaches at 25pc, while insurance providers and social media companies experienced the fewest incidents. The WannaCry ransomware attack this summer was a contributing factor in the results for the healthcare field and, although the amount of breaches reported in healthcare has stayed relatively static, stolen, compromised and lost records increased by 423pc.

Who is responsible?

The largest number of data breaches were undertaken by malicious outsiders at 74pc, but they were only accountable for 13pc of lost, stolen or compromised records.

A sizeable chunk came from 22 major incidents, each of them involving more than 1m compromised records.

Where is suffering the most?

North America makes up the vast majority of all breaches and records compromised, at 86pc, with the quantity of compromised data up by 201pc. The US traditionally has the most publicly disclosed breaches, but the onset of GDPR and Australia’s privacy amendment will mean more disclosures to come in these territories.

Infographic: Gemalto. Click to enlarge.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects