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September 14, 2012

Data Breaches Drop, Hackers More Selective

Data breaches dipped in 2012 compared to the previous year, but that may mean hackers are being more selective, a new report has found.

Symantec’s August 2012 Intelligence Report reveals an average of 14 data breaches per month so far in 2012, down from 16.5 per month from January to August of 2011. The average number of identities stolen during those incidents was cut in half from 2011 to 2012 during the months of January to August.

Good news right? Not necessarily so, cautions Symantec employee Paul Wood.

“At first glance it appears that attacks are down — while the overall number of breaches stayed about the same, the average number of identities stolen per breach is down by almost half,” Wood said in a company blog post.

“However, this can be attributed to a handful of very large data breaches in our 2011 data set that brought the average up. If we look at the median values for the two time periods, we see a very different picture: the median number of identities stolen is up by 41 percent. This could indicate that the attackers are going after more select, targeted batches, as opposed to simply making off with big-number caches of data.”

Although hackers are to blame for 40 percent of data breaches, 21 percent are the result of data being made public accidentally. Nineteen percent are due to theft or loss.

 

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