Report: Computer Security Breaches Nearly Doubled in 2008


The number of computer security incidents in 2008 increased 47 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) newly released breach report.

The report states 656 breaches were reported in 2008 compared to 446 in 2007. Educational institutions were second only to businesses in the number of breaches, while healthcare/medical campuses were in fourth place behind the government/military sector.

Network security incidents in the education sector accounted for 20 percent of the total number of breaches in 2008. That percentage, however, is down from the previous two years: 24.8 percent in 2007 and 28 percent in 2006.

By contrast, healthcare saw its share of incidents increase last year. The sector had 14.8 percent of the total number of breaches in 2008, which is slightly up from 2007 (14.6 percent) and 2006 (13 percent).

Overall, the bulk of breached data was unprotected by either encryption or passwords. According to ITRC, only 2.4 percent of all breaches had encryption or other strong protection methods in use. Only 8.5 percent of reported breaches had password protection.

Mal-attacks, hacking and insider theft accounted for 29.6 percent of those breaches that reported the causal factor. Insider theft, now at 15.7 percent, more than doubled between 2007 and 2008. Conversely, data on the move and accidental exposure, both human error categories, showed noteworthy improvement but still accounted for 35.2 percent of those breaches that indicate cause.

Electronic breaches (82.3 percent) continued to outnumber paper breaches (17.7 percent). While there were 35.7 million records potentially breached according to the notification letters and information provided by breached entities, 41.9 percent went unreported or undisclosed, making the total number of affected records an unreliable number to use for any accurate reporting.

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