Report: Beazley breach insights - January 2017 


Ransomware attacks soar in 2016, projected to double again 2017.

Ransomware attacks handled by Beazley more than quadrupled in 2016, with nearly half of these attacks in the healthcare sector, and Beazley projects these attacks will double again in 2017. Organizations appear to be particularly vulnerable to attacks during IT system freezes, at the end of financial quarters and during busy shopping periods. Evolving ransomware variants enable hackers to methodically investigate a company's system, selectively lock the most critical files, and demand higher ransoms to get the more valuable files unencrypted.

The rise of unintended disclosure as a breach cause indicates that formerly small mistakes now have the potential to quickly lead to large data breaches. Employee education and training, up to date IT system protections and an incident response plan for when a breach occurs continue to be the best defenses against these attacks.

2016 data breach trends

Ransomware rising
Ransomware attacks were over four times more numerous in 2016 than in 2015. The ease and effectiveness of these attacks may find an even larger increase in 2017 with Beazley projecting these attacks to double again in the course of this year.

Sorry, I didn't mean to
The proliferation of hackers has made formerly minor mistakes much more dangerous. Unintended disclosure, most often emails or faxes sent to the wrong recipient, represented 32% of breaches in 2016, up from 24% in 2015.

Breaking the bank

Hacks and malware accounted for 40% of financial institution data breaches in 2016, up from 27% in 2015. Unintended disclosure - mainly caused by misdirected emails - was also up, rising to 28% of breaches in 2016 from 24% in 2015.

Higher education hacking

Hacks and malware accounted for nearly half of higher education data breaches in 2016 (45%), up from 35% of breaches in 2015. Unintended disclosures caused 28% of breaches in 2016, up from 22% in 2015.

The doctor will see who now?
Unintended disclosure - misdirected faxes and emails or the improper release of discharge papers - led to 40% of breaches in the healthcare industry in 2016, up from 30% in 2015. In a sign that the industry might be improving defenses, hacks and malware accounted for only 19% of breaches in 2016, down from 27% in 2015.

Four steps organizations can take to help protect their data

Perfect cyber security is impossible to attain, but there are steps organizations can take to protect their data. Here are four key steps organizations can take to minimize the risk:

  • Deploy prevention and detection tools;
  • Use threat intelligence services;
  • Train managers and employees on cyber security and threat awareness; and 
  • Conduct risk assessments focused on identifying and protecting sensitive data.

Read the Beazley Breach Insights - January 2017 report.