Gemalto released the latest findings of the Breach Level Index, a global database of public data breaches, revealing 945 data breaches led to 4.5 billion data records being compromised worldwide in the first half of 2018. Compared to the same period in 2017, the number of lost, stolen or compromised records increased by a staggering 133 per cent, though the total number of breaches slightly decreased over the same period, signaling an increase in the severity of each incident.
A total of six social media breaches, including the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook incident, accounted for over 56 per cent of total records compromised. Of the 945 data breaches, 189 (20 per cent of all breaches) had an unknown or unaccounted number of compromised data records.
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 or not 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 not serious versus those that are truly impactful.
According to the Breach Level Index, almost 1 billion data records have been exposed in India since 2013, when the index began benchmarking publicly disclosed data breaches. During the first six months of 2018, almost 1 billion records were compromised in Aadhar breach incident, including name, address and other personally identified information. This is particularly concerning, since the stolen, lost or compromised data records of only one out of 12 breaches were protected by encryption to render the information useless, a zero per cent compared to the first six months of 2017.
"Obviously, this year social media has been the top industry and threat vector for the compromise of personal data, a trend we can expect to continue with more and more sectors leveraging these platforms to reach key audiences, especially political teams gearing up for major elections," said Jason Hart, vice president and chief technology officer for data protection at Gemalto. "We also expect to see more data breaches reported by European Union countries bound by the new General Data Protection Regulation and in Australia with the new Notifiable Data Breaches law. We should be careful not to misconstrue this as an increase in overall incidents in these areas but rather as a more accurate reflection of what is actually going on."
Primary Sources of Data Breaches
Malicious outsiders caused the largest per centage of data breaches and accounted for almost 90 per cent above of all stolen, compromised or lost records in 2018 in India. The number of attacks in accidental loss fell by 100 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. However, the number of attacks in malicious insider attacks increased by more than 100 per cent this half compared to the same time period in 2017.
Leading Types of Data Breaches
Identity theft continues to be the leading type of data breach, as it has been since Gemalto first started tracking in 2013. While the number of identity theft breaches decreased by 28 per cent over the second half of 2017, the number of records stolen through these incidents represent over 99 per cent of all records stolen.
Financial access incidents show a disturbing trend in the escalation of severity. Though overall incident numbers are on the decline H1 2017 vs. H1 2018 (4 for H1 2017, 2 for H2 2017 and 3 for H1 2018), the number of records breached increased H1 2017 vs. H1 2018 (1.5 million, 50 and 2.6 million) respectively.
Industries Most Affected by Data Breaches
Most sectors saw an increase in the number of incidents compared to the previous half – the exceptions were government, professional services, retail and technology, though both government and retail saw a tremendous increase in the number of records breached through fewer events. Government continues to lead in number of records compromised during data breaches through identity theft which accounted for 98 per cent of the records stolen.
Geographic Distribution of Data Breaches
North America still makes up the majority of all breaches and the number of compromised records, 59 and 72 per cent respectively. The United States is still by far and away the most popular target for attacks, representing more than 57 per cent of global breaches and accounting for 72 per cent of all records stolen, though overall incidents are down 17 per cent over the prior half. India accounts for 37 per cent of the global breaches in terms of records compromised or stolen or revealed.
With the implementation of the Notifiable Data Breaches law, the number of incidents in Australia increased dramatically from 18 to 308 as could be expected.
Europe saw 36 per cent fewer incidents but a 28 per cent increase in the number of records breached indicating growing severity of attacks. The United Kingdom remains the most breached country in the region. With the General Data Protection Regulation in full effect for the second half of 2018, the number of reported incidents could begin to rise.