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Data Breaches up 72% From Record High: Cyber Incident Readiness Must be Top of Mind

  • Cyber Breach
  • 3 Mins

“Protect your data! Breaches are on the rise!” These warnings seem to be everywhere – and rightfully so. Threat actors are sophisticated and new breach trends are constantly materialising. Awareness is no longer enough. It must be coupled with education and action. The newest data breach statistics are astounding and illustrate how dire the landscape is currently. All organisations should know breach trends and effective ways to limit cyber risk.

Recent Data Breach Statistics

The US-Based Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) released its 2023 Data Breach Report this January, providing organisations with a better view of the current cyber threat landscape so they can anticipate and prepare. The findings from 2023 were more shocking than years past. 

Here are some important observations:

  • There were 3,205 data compromises last year, which demonstrates a 78% increase from the 1,801 reported in 2022.
  • The previous record high for data compromises was 1,860 in 2021, meaning that 2023 set a new all-time high at 72% more than the prior contender.
  • The estimated number of victims from last year’s breaches was 353,027,892. This is actually a 16% drop from the year before. However, the ITRC explained a continuing trend has been more breaches resulting from organised threat actors focusing on retrieval of specific information, identity fraud, and scams. This is different than less sophisticated cybercriminals perpetrating mass attacks to see what information they can get.
  • Healthcare and financial services industries experienced the highest number of data compromises in 2023 at 809 and 744, respectively. Those two industries along with transportation reported more than double in comparison to the year prior.
  • The number of phishing and ransomware attacks decreased – but only slightly. Malware and zero-day attacks had a very significant leap in numbers, which can likely be attributed to the massive MOVEit hack that began last May.
  • There was a whopping 590% increase in data exposure via emails and correspondence.
  • Supply chain attacks have been on the rise for years, with 2,600% increase in organisations affected since 2018. In that same timeframe, there was a 1,400% increase in victim count.

These statistics illustrate the ever-growing cyber threat landscape. Organisations should be taking steps to be more prepared. Doing so will make breach response neater and less catastrophic. It can also prevent compromises from happening in the first place. On the other hand, failure to act before a breach occurs creates more opportunities for threat actors to intercept sensitive company and consumer data. This inevitably leads to legal and regulatory ramifications, costs, business disruption, affected client relationships, and negative public image.

Limiting Cyber Risk

With the trend of more targeted attacks, there is a higher risk for interception of valuable data. 

Here are six steps organisations should consider advancing as part of their cybersecurity strategies.

  1. Maintain robust investigatory and breach response plans so when an incident occurs, action can follow quickly and efficiently. Building information governance into these plans is a way to better prepare as there is less data to intercept when retention controls are in place. Having a more accurate picture of where data lives also improves identification, containment, and notification after a data compromise. Overall, information governance is an area of opportunity to invest in to reduce the risk associated with cyber events.
  2. Obtain information about third-party security controls, breach history, mitigation efforts, and breach notices. The fact that supply chain attacks keep steadily increasing, along with the heightened risk of zero-day attacks, makes it more important than ever to gain a thorough understanding of vendor security practices.  This extends to those suppliers who are critical to your business, those who may host or have your data, and those who host or have your sensitive data. Data aggregators, including law firms, are lucrative targets for threat actors because they hold the data of many end clients, and in the case of law firms, often the extremely sensitive data of those end clients. When a threat actor breaches a data aggregator or law firm it’s like they were able to breach hundreds of companies at once.
  3. Invest time and resources into cyber training, education, and oversight. Attacks that are usually easier to spot, such as phishing attempts, are now more convincing. Threat actors know what language to use and have better technologies available to assist with attack attempts. Also, the drastic rise in exposure via email and correspondence shows how easy it is for compromises in everyday communications. Simulation exercises to company email addresses and devices are a great way to test training efficiency and compliance with internal security policies.
  4. Increase cross-functional collaboration around cybersecurity initiatives. Simply put, everyone needs to be involved. The security team and C-suite are not enough. Include legal, HR, and risk management in strategy and policy development and ensure these stakeholders are participants in regular tabletop exercises.
  5. Activate alerts via search engines on breaches, industry reports, and cybersecurity best practices. This takes little effort but helps maintain awareness. Action beyond this will be necessary, but being informed is always the first step.
  6. If you lack the time or expertise internally within your organisation identify and hire trusted consultants to assist until you can onboard resources internally and consider if some preventative measures, such as MDR, are better handled by a partner permanently.

These are just a few tips to help organisations anticipate and overcome cyber challenges. As always, this is an ongoing initiative that can benefit from trend monitoring and expertise from consultants.

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.

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