Cyber attacks and data breaches in businesses have almost doubled globally in 2017 compared to the previous year, jumping up to a record high of 159,700, according to the latest report from The Online Trust Alliance.
Researchers from OTA also concluded that as the majority of cyber incidents go unreported, the actual figure for the year could be closer to 350,000.
“This year’s big increase in cyberattacks can be attributed to the skyrocketing instances of ransomware and the bold new methods of criminals using this attack,” Jeff Wilbur, director of the OTA initiative at the Internet Society, said.
Researchers also found that most breaches could have been easily avoided. In fact, it calculated that 93 percent wouldn’t have occurred if basic cyber hygiene, such as regular scans and quick patches, had been implemented. Of the breaches reported, the study found that just 52 percent were due to actual hacks, while 15 percent were due to a lack of proper security software and 11 percent were due to a lack of internal controls.
“In 2018 we expect patches to play an even more integral role due to the recently discovered Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities where nearly every computer chip manufactured in the last 20 years was found to contain fundamental security flaws,” Wilbur added.
The report recommends better training on how to recognize ransomware emails and phishing attacks, as well as basic cyber hygiene and data safeguarding. Without improved cybersecurity, the report notes, businesses “may find themselves victimized by criminals, then also penalized by regulators and consumers in fines and lawsuits.”
OTA compiled the report by tracking and analyzing data from numerous sources, including Cybersecurity Ventures, the FBI, Malwarebytes, the Ponemon Institute, Proofpoint, Risk Based Security, Symantec and Verizon.