320 breaches reported between July and September

Consumers experienced a wide range of data privacy and security threats in the third quarter of 2014 as hackers successfully conducted large-scale attacks against financial services and retail companies as well as consumers’ personal online accounts and identities.

Between July and September of this year, there were 320 breaches reported worldwide, an increase of nearly 25 percent compared to the same period last year, and more than 183 million customer accounts and data records containing personal or financial information were either stolen or lost, according to SafeNet.

Individuals also felt the data privacy pinch with breaches occurring across three major consumer activities: their banking, shopping, and online identities. Financial Services (42%) and Retail (31%) took the top spots among all industries in terms of the number of compromised customer accounts and data records.

These were followed by breaches involving Technology and Personal Online Accounts (20%) such as email, gaming and other cloud-based services. In addition, Identity Theft also took the top spot among the types of data breaches, accounting for 46% of the total.

“Consumers’ heads must be spinning as criminals are easily getting access to their credit card, banking and personal information at every turn,” said Tsion Gonen, chief strategy officer at SafeNet. “‘Companies should assume a breach and plan accordingly. They need to implement technologies and programs that minimize the impact of a breach on top of the traditional prevention. As it is, these technologies are just not being used by to the fullest extent by either consumers or companies.”

“The retail industry has been consistently hit hard with breaches. Criminals want to have access to credit card and banking information for financial gain or to obtain personal information to use for identity theft. Customers have been very tolerant of these breaches, because they feel that this access can be corrected by someone else, like a bank replacing a stolen credit card. However, this new surge of online identity breaches is much more serious for individuals. Once your personal photos or private messages have been accessed and leaked online, there’s no fixing that. Those items will be forever in cyberspace for your future employers, friends and family to access,” continued Gonen.

“While it’s not surprising that sophisticated cybercriminals are continuing to attempt these breaches, what is surprising is that again only 1% of breached records had been encrypted. Now is the time for customers to demand that their personal information be encrypted by companies,” he added.

By data breach type

  • Account Access: 86,393,338 records or 48%, and 39 data breach incidents or 12% of all incidents
  • Financial Access: 58,453,288 records or 33%, and 52 data breach incidents or 16% of all incidents
  • Identity Theft: 30,717,154 records or 17%, and 147 incidents or 46% of all incidents
  • Nuisance: 3,195,285 records or 2%, and 46 incidents or 15% of all incidents
  • Existential Data: 116,220 records or <1%, and 36 data breach incidents or 11% of all incidents.

By source

  • Malicious Outsiders: Accounted for 173,835,350 data records stolen or 97%, and 172 data breach incidents or 54%
  • Accidental Loss: Accounted for 2,795,235 data records lost or 1%, and 77 data breach incidents or 24%
  • State Sponsored: Accounted for 2,075,584 data records stolen or 1%, and 24 data breach incidents or 7%
  • Hacktivists: Accounted for 117,105 data records stolen or <1%, and 8 data breach incidents or 3%
  • Malicious Insiders: Accounted for 52,011 data records stolen or <1%, and 38 data breach incidents or 12%.

By geography

The United States reported more data breaches than any other country with 199 incidents (or 62%), followed by the United Kingdom with 33 incidents (or 10%), Canada with 14 incidents (or 4%), Australia with 11 incidents (or 3%), and Israel with 10 incidents (or 3%).

  • North America: 215 incidents or 66%
  • South American: 2 incident or 1%
  • Europe: 51 incidents or 16%
  • Middle East & Africa: 21 incidents or 7%
  • Asia-Pacific: 31 incidents or 10%.