Cyber-attacks increased by 300% in 2016

Cyber-attacks increased by 300% in 2016

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Top digital security provider Gemalto released a Breach Level Index (BLI) report on cyber-attacks and compromised data records in 2016. They found a total of 1,792 data breaches last year alone, leading to around 1.378 billion data records being illegally accessed.

Since 2013, over 7 billion data records have reportedly been stolen across the globe. And these are just the ones that have been reported. To break this number down, this equals to:

  • 4,501,854 records lost or stolen every day
  • 187,577 every hour
  • 3,126 every minute
  • 52 every second.

From this colossal number, it’s said that only 4% of the data was encrypted to stop hackers accessing the information, rendering it useless to them. If that doesn’t make you want to tighten up your data security, I’m not sure what will…

Geographically, the U.S. saw the greatest number of records compromised – their 4 billion breached records completely overshadows the U.K.’s 86 million!

The data breaches that the BLI records vary in seriousness. Some breaches may compromise the company’s entire global network, causing chaos with the corrupt private information; and on the other hand, some breaches can contain broken data that have no use or no impact.

“More and more organisations are accepting the fact that, despite their best efforts, security breaches are unavoidable.”

We can only hope that companies do not feel defeated and give up on the battle with cyber security. With the rise of private and sensitive information being shared and accessible, companies must continue the fight to protect their customers.

The BLI believes that when companies reach ‘Breach Acceptance’, companies will adopt a new mindset and give new focus to protecting the data.

A rising crisis for the healthcare industry

The BLI gives a breakdown of which sectors suffered the most compromised data records since 2013:

Industry Percentage
Technology 35.2%
Other 15.5%
Retail 11.8%
Government 11.5%
Financial 4.4%
Healthcare 3.5%
Education 1.1%

However, it was the Healthcare industry that suffered the most number of data breaches in 2016. A total of 27.5% of all breaches recorded in 2016 came from healthcare institutes. A worrying trend for anyone associated with the healthcare industry is that their now seen as a favourite target amongst hackers.

With a wealth of information being shared through vast networks to ensure doctors can access medical records quickly, hackers can then use the stolen data fraudulently or hold it for ransom. 2016 saw a 10.8% increase in breaches in healthcare organisations with 493 recorded, compared to the 445 recorded in 2015.

It seems likely that this number will keep rising unless a major overhaul is carried out in the healthcare industry.

Trend in data held for ransom

In 2016, we noticed a trend in data being held for ransom. As mentioned with the healthcare industry, doctors and other healthcare providers need patient information quickly and accurately. When dealing with a patient who has an existing serious health condition or severe allergic reactions, doctors may be unable to treat them properly without risking their lives unless they have access to their records quickly.

Other industries were also quick to pay ransoms to desperately avoid losing important data. If they know hackers have accessed their systems, they also worry that hackers can just as easily shut them down and cause havoc.

The nature of these ransoms also got personal. For the hacker, it doesn’t matter if an individual has had a gender reassignment operation or if they visit adult websites; they simply want the money. For the individual, having that information leaked can be mortifying and destroy reputations and relationships.

Will things change in 2017?

Now we are well into 2017 and we can only hope that companies take these breaches seriously. Hackers are incredibly hard to track down and companies must not neglect their security walls. For a small investment in upgraded security software, companies can save themselves a lot of pain and suffering. This is not only a moral obligation, but it’s a legal one. If a company is found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act in England and Wales, victims can be entitled to bring legal proceedings to recover financial compensation to help remedy some of the effects of a data breach.


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