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Most data breaches in 2013, says Symantec data breach report 2013

Symantec have reported that 2013 housed some of the most alarming data breaches in recent times, and that the end of 2013 is a reminder of how much of a threat cyber criminals are in recent times. The Symantec data breach report 2013 has shown that more data has been lost, compromised and stolen than in any other year. The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report indicated that a 91% increase of targeted attacks was evident in 2013, with an alarming 62% increased number of data breaches.

The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report also indicated that the impact on organisations is catastrophic in today’s environment. The impact ranges from both significant financial impacts all the way through to reputational damage that can be critical on businesses today. The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report highlighted that Q4 of 2013 was significant in showing businesses how damaging data breaches could be – as was evident when Targets CISO resigns following data breach.

With the sharp rise of data breaches in 2013, a 62% increase from 2012, organisations are looking at tens of millions of record losses in a typical breach. For example, the top 8 identified breaches in 2013 resulted in a loss of tens of millions of data records – a loss that many companies may not be able to recover from.

Targeted attacks, or advanced persistent threats, was an area that boomed in 2013 – with a sharp increase of 91% from 2012. This is particularly focused on the areas of cybercrime, espionage and attacks for financial gain. The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report also noted that social engineering attacks were becoming increasingly common, with personal assistants and those closest to targets being coerced in order to gain information to attack high profile individuals or celebrities.

Symantec reported a 62% increase of breaches since 2012.

Symantec reported a 62% increase of breaches since 2012.

The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report also states that spear phishing campaigns remain prominent, however, a decrease in the number of emails used has decreased, as well as how many target email addresses are used. This highlights the targeted attacks that cyber criminals are now using, by identifying the users to target their carefully crafted emails to the results are more successful. Spear phishing campaigns themselves, now more targeted, are said to be up 91% since 2012.

Symantec also reported that more zero-day vulnerabilities had been identified in 2013 than in any other year, with a high number of 23 zero days discovered. This represents a significant 60% increase since 2012 and allows attackers to compromise systems with no means of detection. Zero day vulnerabilities typically sell on the black market for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Finally, ransom ware has been seen to be significant in 2013. A 500% increase in the distribution of ransom ware was evident from the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, a trend that looks set to continue. Ransom ware is a particular strain of malware that appears to lock the users computer, disguised as a law enforcement agency or similar, and request a payment or card details to unlock it. This has also been seen where the users computer contents are encrypted and the attacker will not release the contents of the system without a payment. Users should ensure not to make payments to attackers, who often use card details to perform further criminal activities.

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