Data breaches became the focus of a report from Symantec released Wednesday, highlighting the need for advertising and marketing execs to become more vigilant about protecting consumer data. The mere mention of data theft can ruin a brand's reputation and turn off consumers from purchasing online.
The Intelligence Report: August 2012 points to several concerns that arose during January to August 2012, related to identity theft through phishing, malware and other threats that often accompany the collection of sensitive information.
Phishing Web sites with IP domains rose 24% in 2012, compared with the prior year, and Web hosting services made up 3% of all phishing, dropping 13% sequentially. Organized spoofed phishing attacks by industry put ecommerce at the top of the list this year with 39.1%, followed by information services at 32.21%, banking at 27.01%, telecommunications at 0.52%, and retail at 0.40%.
The average number of data breaches per month fell to 14 in the first half of 2012 from 16.5 in 2011, but Symantec continues to warn that companies need to secure customer and employee data.
The average number of identities stolen also fell during the same period. In the last eight months of 2011, the average number of identities stolen was 1,311,629 per data breach. This year, the number fell to 640,169.
The study also shows that while the overall average number of identities stolen fell, the core number of identities stolen, when accounting for variance, rose over time. Symantec suggests it could mean that hackers are going after more select, targeted batches of data, as opposed to making off with big-number caches. The information they steal could be smaller in size, but more useful for criminal activities.
What industries are responsible for the most data breaches? Information technology and computer software were top of the list in 2011, making up about 80% of total breaches. These industries have done much to improve their standing, having been surpassed by the retail trade and telecoms in numbers of identities stolen.
The most common category of spam in August is related to the sex/dating category, with 42.51% in August, up from 23.46% sequentially. Pharma followed with 32.61% and 12.87%, respectively. On the other hand, some of the biggest threats to a company's data become the ability for employees to access company intranets through their own mobile devices.