Data breach continues to be a major topic of concern for business owners in all industries. In 2016 the number of reported data breaches grew from about 600 million to a startling 4 billion according to IBM Security’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. This is more than the total number of breaches from the previous two years.
The report shows the top five industries impacted were:
Information and Communications
Media and Entertainment
And of course, let’s not forget the National Democratic Convention. Several of the leaks reported by the DNC gave information from private emails that contained strategies which could have potentially swayed opinions of voters from one candidate to another. This demonstrates the wide impact data breaches can have on society and the information shared.
It’s important to note that while personal emails are often attacked, many breaches leaked records including data cybercriminals have traditionally targeted such as credit cards, passwords, and personal health information. There was also a notable shift as hackers began targeting unstructured data such as email archives, business documents, intellectual property, and source code. Unstructured data is information that is not included in a database or typically does not have heavy formatting such as databases and spreadsheets contain.
The shift to targeting unstructured data might signify a change in future targets for cybercriminals. Businesses with large amounts of written text, briefs, documents, and other forms of intellectual property could become primary targets for hackers. In fact, although the financial services industry only ranked third in number of breaches, IBM Security reports financial services as the most attacked industry in 2016.
Another startling piece of information uncovered in this report is the increase in money paid for ransomware attacks. Of the businesses reporting ransomware attacks in 2016, 70 percent indicated they paid more than $10,000 to regain access to their data and systems. The FBI estimates ransomware attackers were paid more than $200 million during just the first quarter of 2016.
The primary delivery method for ransomware continues to be malicious attachments in SPAM email. The FBI believes cybercriminals will continue to engage in ransomware attacks as long as businesses are willing to pay the ransoms.
Regardless of industry, cybercrime is not going way. Increasing protections is the only way a business can avoid becoming a victim of these criminals. Cybercriminals attack small towns just as frequently as they do large cities. They attack small to midsized businesses much more frequently than they do large businesses. This is primarily because smaller companies usually do not see the benefit of having fulltime staff dedicated to protecting their data.
While the cost of staffing fulltime IT personnel to manage network security may be cost prohibitive; hiring a managed service provider to protect your networks, systems, and data will cost much less than a ransom. Take the necessary steps to protect your business. Educate your employees on safe data handling practices and make sure you have good network security in place. A good managed service provider will give you peace of mind where your business data is concerned.