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1.4bn data records breached

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Gemalto’s recent findings of its Breach Level Index revealed that 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records compromised worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015.

Gemalto has released the findings of the Breach Level Index revealing that 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records compromised worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015. Identity theft was the leading type of data breach in 2016, accounting for 59% of all data breaches. In addition, 52% percent of the data breaches in 2016 did not disclose the number of compromised records at the time they were reported.

The Breach Level Index is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple dimensions, including the number of records compromised, the type of data, the source of the breach, how the data was used, and whether the data was encrypted. By assigning a severity score to each breach, the Breach Level Index provides a comparative list of breaches, distinguishing data breaches that are a not serious versus those that are truly impactful (scores run 1-10).  According to the Breach Level Index, more than 7 billion data records have been exposed since 2013 when the index began benchmarking publicly disclosed data breaches. Breaking it down that is over 3 million records compromised every day or roughly 44 records every second.

Last year, the account access based attack on AdultFriend Finder exposing 400 million records scored a 10 in terms of severity on the Breach Level Index. Other notable breaches in 2016 included Fling (BLI: 9.8), Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) (BLI: 9.8), 17 Media (BLI: 9.7) and Dailymotion (BLI: 9.6). In fact, the top 10 breaches in terms of severity accounted for over half of all compromised records. In 2016, Yahoo! reported two major data breaches involving 1.5 billion user accounts, but are not accounted for in the BLI’s 2016 numbers since they occurred in 2013 and 2014.

In the local context, South African Breaches increased from 6 in 2015 to 11 in 2016.  Overall, from 2015 to 2016, the South African Government had to contend with the most attacks – reported at nearly 60% in 2016 as compared to the 50% reported in the previous year. Government entities including the South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs as well as the Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS) accounted the 5 800 and 33 000 records respectively breached in 2016.

“The Breach Level Index highlights four major cybercriminal trends over the past year. Hackers are casting a wider net and are using easily-attainable account and identity information as a starting point for high value targets. Clearly, fraudsters are also shifting from attacks targeted at financial organizations to infiltrating large data bases such as entertainment and social media sites. Lastly, fraudsters have been using encryption to make breached data unreadable, then hold it for ransom and decrypting once they are paid, said Jason Hart, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Data Protection at Gemalto. 

Data Breaches by Type

In 2016, identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 59% of all data breaches, up by 5% from 2015. The second most prevalent type of breach in 2016 is account access based breaches. While the number of this type of data breach decreased by 3%, it made up 54 % of all breached records, which is an increase of 336% from the previous year.  This highlights the cybercriminal trend from financial information attacks to bigger databases with large volumes of personally identifiable information. Another notable data point is the nuisance category with an increase of 102% accounting for 18% of all breached records up 1474% since 2015.

Data Breaches by Source

Malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches, accounting for 68% of breaches, up from 13% in 2015. The number of records breached in malicious outsider attacks increased by 286% from 2015. Hacktivist data breaches also increased in 2016 by 31%, but only account for 3% of all breaches that occurred last year.

Data Breaches by Industry

Across industries, the technology sector had the largest increase in data breaches in 2016. Breaches rose 55%, but only accounted for 11% of all breaches last year. Almost 80% of the breaches in this sector were account access and identity theft related. They also represented 28% of compromised records in 2016, an increase of 278% from 2015.

The healthcare industry accounted for 28% of data breaches, rising 11% compared to 2015. However, the number of compromised data records in healthcare decreased by 75% since 2015. Education saw a 5% decrease in data breaches between 2015 and 2016 and a drop of 78% in compromised data records. Government accounted for 15% of all data breaches in 2016. However, the number of compromised data records increased 27% from 2015. Financial services companies accounted for 12% of all data breaches, a 23% decline compared to the previous year.

All industries listed in the other category represented 13% of data breaches and 36% of compromised data records. In this category, the overall number of data breaches decreased by 29%, while the number of compromised records jumped by 300% since 2015. Social media and entertainment industry related data breaches made up the majority.

Last year 4.2% of the total number of breach incidents involved data that had been encrypted in part or in full, compared to 4% in 2015. In some of these instances, the password was encrypted, but other information was left unencrypted. However, of the almost 1.4 billion records compromised, lost or stolen in 2016, only 6% were encrypted partially or in full (compared to 2% in 2015).

Knowing exactly where their data resides and who has access to it will help enterprises outline security strategies based on data categories that make the most sense for their organizations. Encryption and authentication are no longer ‘best practices’ but necessities. This is especially true with new and updated government mandates like the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, U.S state-based and APAC country-based breach disclosure laws. But it’s also about protecting your business’ data integrity so the right decisions can be made on, your reputation and your profits.”

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Epic Games brings a Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

An example on how one can get infected by downloading the Fortnite app from Google Play.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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