Half a billion people hit by personal data loss

Cyber Security

A report from Symantec, a security firm, has indicated there were 429 million identities exposed in 2015, although this number could be over half a billion as it was claimed that increasing numbers of companies are failing to report all the data they have lost.

Cybercriminals carried out 200 per cent more fake technical support scams, and 35 per cent more ransomware attacks, it was also revealed by Symantec.

The most breaches were seen at insurance companies, hospitals and healthcare companies. In nine “mega-breaches” during 2015, more than 10 million records in total were breached each time, with one of these breaches – of the US Voter registration records – seeing more than 191 million identities exposed by the hackers.

Examples of attacks would be scamming unsuspecting people into thinking their technology device had a problem, and paying the hackers to ‘fix’ this. This could be done by making fake pop-ups appear on devices, saying that computer viruses had been found, and that to get rid of them, the hackers would need to be given remote control access to the device. They would then be able to access the victim’s information.

The director of Symantec security, Kevin Haley, said: “They [cybercriminals] have extensive resources and highly skilled technical staff that operate with such efficiency that they maintain normal business hours and even take the weekends and holidays off.”

“The increasing number of companies choosing to hold back critical details after a breach is a disturbing trend. By hiding the full impact of an attack, it becomes more difficult to assess the risk and improve your security posture to prevent future attacks,” he continued.