Here’s some good news on cyber security: the number of data breaches totaled 685 in the first quarter of 2018 -- a four-year low, down from 1,444 in the same quarter last year and 1,153 in 2016, according to the Q1 2018 Data Breach QuickView Report, a study by Risk Based Security.
And while it’s still a large number, only 1.4 billion records were exposed, compared with 3.4 billion in the first quarter of 2017. A single incident in India accounted for 81% of those exposures. However, the number far exceeds those of the three years leading up to 2017.
Fraud accounted for 1.27 billion of these exposed records, but it still was only the seventh-most common breach type, accounting for 4.8% of the incidents.
Businesses suffered 50.4% of the reported breaches during the first quarter, followed by the government sector (14.4%), medical (10.2%) and education (7%).
Meanwhile, email phishing for employee W-2 data fell to 31 disclosed episodes versus 214 in the prior year
Hacking was the top breach type during the quarter, responsible for 38.9% of the attacks. It exposed 159 million records — 10.9% of the total.
The number of incidents hit a peak in the first quarter of 2017.
Despite the seeming improvements, cyber attacks in general remain a threat.
“We knew we were seeing less activity than prior quarters but we were still surprised by the final tally” states Inga Goddijn, executive vice president at Risk Based Security. “We were geared up for a wave of activity targeting tax filing data that never fully materialized as expected.”
She adds: "If there was a truly seismic shift in breach activity we would expect other metrics to show some signs of change as well. Given this, we think the jury is still out on whether the dip is a one-time blip or part of a larger trend.”
Meanwhile, it appears that crypto-currencies might contribute to the falloff in incidents.
“While there is no direct data linking the rise of crypo-miners to a reduction in data breach activity, there are tantalizing bits of evidence that lead us to believe there is some level of relationship at play here,” Goddijn adds.