According to Verizon’s DBIR (Data Breach Investigations Report) issued this year, the number of data breaches in the last years has fallen significantly, but there is still reason to remain vigilant. The numbers show a decrease from 144 million compromised records in 2009 to 4 million compromised records in 2010. The progress is even more significant if we take under consideration the progress since 2008, when 361 million records have been compromised.
This study was conducted by Verizon along with U.S. Secret Service (USSS) and the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU).
“With the addition of Verizon’s 2010 caseload and data contributed from the USSS and NHTCU, the DBIR series now spans 7 years, 1,700-plus breaches, and over 900 million compromised records,” said a post to the Verizon Business Security Blog that accompanied the report.
The most stringent questions yielded by the report is what do these behavior changes mean for IT organizations and the patterns of security breaches?
“In 2008’s record-setting 361 million, we speculated whether 2009’s drop to 144 million was a fluke or a sign of things to come, [and] 2010’s total of less than 4 million compromised records seems to suggest it was a sign,” the report said.
The last report shows that 92% of the breaches involved external attacks while only 17% involved inside jobs. Of the external attacks, the ratio between hacking and usage of malware is about 50/50.
A new threat has made it to the top three list in this latest report – physical access to the machine, which was a component in 29 percent of breaches.
“After doubling as a percentage of all breaches in 2009, [physical access] managed to double again in 2010,” the report added.
The same report shows that while 83% of the successful attacks were “targets of opportunity” and 92% where not very difficult to carry out, 96% of the attacks might have been prevented by simple or intermediate countermeasures. Although techniques and technologies for defending against data breaches have changed or have been upgraded, the key ingredient against these type of incidents continues to be common sense. Account monitoring, testing of web applications, eliminating unneeded information and supervising by IT professional are only some of the easy steps towards ending data breaches.