If the astonishing revelations over a multi-year cyber-attack campaign against JPMorgan and others teach us nothing else, it’s that even the country’s largest financial institutions are still vulnerable to hackers. In the region of 100 million customers are said to have had their information stolen, and many more all over the US and the beyond will no doubt be wondering if they’ll be next. It might not be surprising, given the kind of information that financial institutions hold, that they are a target for hackers.
But it may come as a surprise to learn that this isn’t the most targeted industry in the US. In fact, it only accounted for 10 percent of data breaches recorded over the past decade, according to new research from Trend Micro. And it wasn’t even in the top three when it came to ID theft.
The truth about breaches
To uncover the truth about data breach trends over the past 10 years, Trend Micro analysed data from non-profit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse from 2005-2015 to compile two companion Follow the Data reports. Only by looking in depth over this kind of timeframe can we begin to deduce patterns and trends accurately enough. We found that retail was by far the most heavily hit industry, accounting for 47.8 percent of disclosed breaches over the period. The financial industry came a distant second with 10.2 percent, followed by healthcare (5.5%).
In fact, Trend Micro analysis revealed that, like government organizations, the financial industry followed a very clear pattern with its breaches. A major spike one year (2006, 2010) followed by several years of decline. It’s likely that these years of declining breach volumes came as the industry implemented new policies, protocols and procedures following a major shock to the system.
Now, 10 percent still equates to a sizeable number of breaches, of course, and we must remember that this is only an analysis of those recorded incidents – there could be more we don’t know about. The type of data these institutions typically store is highly sought after by hackers. It can be quickly and easily monetized – typically to create counterfeit credit cards, pay bills, commit fraud, and transfer money out of victims’ bank accounts. Moreover, unlike other industries where one or two specific breach methods are favored by attackers, incidents involving loss or theft, hacking or malware, insider threats and unintended disclosures are pretty evenly spread over the decade. But while there’s been a decline in loss or theft – perhaps highlighting the positive effect of those new policies and procedures – hacking, malware and insider threats increased.
The message for financial institutions then is clear, as backed up by recent well publicized cyberattacks: continue to invest in new ways to combat attacks that will surely come.
A multi-layered response
So that’s where we stand in 2015. And with hacking techniques getting ever more sophisticated and covert, financial organizations need to be on the top of their game when it comes to cyber security. So where should investments be targeted?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this: CISOs will need to craft their own response according to their organizations’ risk appetite and the kind of data they hold. But a multi-layered approach involving the following is a good place to start:
Advanced protection against targeted attacks and APTs: Should include advanced, custom sandboxing capabilities to stop and block spear phishing emails. Trend Micro’s Deep Discovery is an industry leading option.
Cloud and Data Center Protection: You need a complete set of capabilities including anti-malware, log inspection, intrusion prevention, virtual patching, host firewall, and integrity monitoring. Trend Micro’s award-winning Deep Security keeps data safe, prevents business disruptions and accelerates cloud ROI.
Integrated DLP: Avoid unintended disclosures and the impact of lost devices with comprehensive data loss prevention across your IT environment.
Endpoint Encryption: Encrypting data on PCs, Macs, DVDs, USBs and other endpoint devices locks down risk and helps financial organizations meet compliance requirements.
Click here to read Trend Micro’s two reports: Follow the Data: Dissecting Data Breaches and Debunking the Myths and Follow the Data: Analyzing Breaches by Industry.
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