More than 1 billion data records breached in 2014

Digital security firm Gemalto’s latest Breach Level Index revealed that data breaches increased 49 percent in 2014 to 1 billion data records compromised, with cyber criminals targeting identity theft as top breach category. In terms of the number of records breached, 2014 represented a 78-percent increase over the prior year.

Records that help criminals with identity theft, which is harder to catch and stop, are the leading goal of attackers. Gemalto, in its annual Breach Level Index report, said there were, globally, 1,514 breach incidents that became public, with the number of records compromised exceeding 1 billion. Identity theft accounted for 54 percent of the attacks, which is up 20 percent from 2013.

Gemalto collects its data from public sources, and despite the vagaries of this type of data collection, it believes the report reflects what is happening on a year-to-year basis. “Breach notification laws didn’t change dramatically,” Tsion Gonen, chief strategy officer for identity and data protection at Gemalto, told ComputerWorld.

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Mega breaches are the defining trend, exposing tens of millions of records of brand-name companies last year.

“Not only are data breach numbers rising, but the breaches are becoming more severe,” Gonen told Gadget. “Being breached is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Breach prevention and threat monitoring can only go so far and do not always keep the cyber criminals out. Companies need to adopt a data-centric view of digital threats starting with better identity and access control techniques such as multi-factor authentication and the use of encryption and key management to secure sensitive data. That way, if the data is stolen it is useless to the thieves.”