Data breaches


When folks think of data breaches, they often imagine criminals using highly sophisticated technology to sneak into a company’s computer network. But most breaches may be a lot simpler than that.

That’s the conclusion of Verizon’s recent Data Breach Investigations Report.

According to Verizon’s study of breaches that occurred in 2009, 96% could have been avoided without very difficult or expensive security measures. Just 15% of attacks were labeled by Verizon as “highly difficult.”

Furthermore, 87% of attack victims had evidence of the breach, but failed to respond to the red flags.

If most breaches aren’t difficult, then, how were they carried out?

Most occurred because credentials were stolen from users or IT staff.

And more often than ever, data is stolen by people inside the company. In 2009, 48% of data breaches involved insiders — that was up from 22% in 2008.

Also, 18% of breaches involved both inside and outside threats.

To minimize those threats, Verizon recommends businesses:

  • Run background checks on all new hires
  • Give users and IT staff only privileges they absolutely need
  • Monitor for unexpected privileged use, and
  • Adequately respond to all policy violations, even minor ones.