Security & Fraud

500M Digital Identities Exposed In 2015

New research from Symantec estimates that over half a billion identities were stolen or exposed online last year, along with even more companies not reporting the true extent of data loss during security breaches.

The report compares the impact of data breaches to an iceberg submerged underwater, with a huge ice mass lurking just below the surface.

“The number of reported identities exposed in data breaches are just the tip of the iceberg,” an infographic highlighting the report data noted, adding a question about what really remains hidden when it comes to compromised identities.

While the data shows that there were 429 million total reported identities exposed in 2015, a 23 percent increase from the year prior, Symantec explained that the number is likely much higher because companies are still withholding information about how much damage data breaches result in.

The number of cybersecurity incidents that did not report the exposure of identities increased to 113 in 2015, up 85 percent compared to the 61 identified in 2014.

According to Wired U.K., the report also provided insight into the significant proliferation of malware online, which increased by 36 percent and resulted in the creation of 430 million new pieces of malicious code last year.

Ransomware attacks are also on the rise, with nearly 35 percent more incidents reported in 2015 compared to the previous year. Just last month, the FBI issued a serious warning that the ransomware problem is likely to get much work before it gets better.

Chris Stangl, a section chief at the FBI’s Cyber Division, called ransomware “a prevalent, increasing threat” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

According to forthcoming data from the FBI, 2015 saw 2,453 reported ransomware incidents. All in, victims paid out about $24.1 million. That is an apparent pickup from 2014, though the comparisons are imperfect because 2104 saw a change to the current data collection method.

The FBI noted that, during the last nine months of 2014, there were 1,838 reported incidents for losses of $23.8 million. Ransomware, Stangl says, “is growing … The only reason why these campaigns are successful is because people pay.”


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