October 26, 2012 – Data breaches in 2011 reached near-record highs, with the majority attacking enterprises based primarily on opportunity, according to a new data security analysis from telecommunications provider Verizon.

The analysis covered 855 data security “incidents” at enterprises, consisting of 174 million compromised records, which was the second-highest total since Verizon started annual reviews in 2004. Working with international government criminal investigation agencies on the report, Verizon found most breaches were caused by financially motivated organized crime groups “which typically attack smaller, low-risk targets to obtain personal and payment data for various fraud schemes,” according to the report. Ninety-eight percent of breaches came from external agents, with a single-digit percentage of collusion with internal employees or business partners, according to the report. Verizon tied 58 percent of breaches to groups associated with some degree of activism. The reported indicted 79 percent of breaches were based on opportunity rather than choice.

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