IBM: Why fewer breached records in 2017 is bad news

The number of breached records dropped almost 25 percent in 2017, according to a IBM Security report released April 4. However, this drop may point to a more sinister trend in the global threat landscape.

For the 2018 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index report, IBM Security analyzed security events — such as spam and phishing attacks — at protected endpoints and servers across almost 100 countries between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2017.

Across industries, IBM Security identified more than 2.9 billion breached records, down from 4 billion in 2016.

However, IBM Security attributed the drop to the growing prominence of ransomware and destructive attacks, which lock or delete data without accessing or viewing it, and therefore do not qualify as a "breach." Ransomware incidents cost organizations more than $8 billion in 2017, according to the report.

Ransomware and destructive attacks, such as WannaCry, NotPetya and Bad Rabbit, "caused chaos across industries without contributing to the total number of compromised records reported," IBM Security said in an April 4 statement.

"While breached records are a good indication of cybercriminal activity, it doesn't tell the full story of 2017," said Wendi Whitmore, global lead of IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services. "Last year, there was a clear focus by criminals to lock or delete data, not just steal it, through ransomware attacks."

Healthcare didn't rank among the five most frequently targeted industries in 2017, which included financial services, information and communications technology, manufacturing, retail, and professional services.

To access IBM Security's report, click here.

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