Considering the number of high-profile data breaches that have affected the POS systems of multiple major commercial businesses within the past couple of years, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity is more problematic than ever before. But the findings of Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report reveal that American consumers may have underestimated how complicated and costly these breaches have become.
The report, which was published on Tuesday, April 14, was compiled by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and 70 other tech-focused organizations; the data collected, according to NBC News, involves nearly 80,000 individual “security incidents” and more than 2,000 confirmed data breaches, spanning across 61 countries.
The report focused on five industries that contained the most reported data breaches during 2014: public administration, financial services, manufacturing, accommodations, and retail stores were all analyzed. Despite the varying security concerns in each industry, the root causes of data breaches were all fairly similar.
As PC World describes the overwhelming trend, “Humans were again the weak link that led to many of the compromises.”
Although a Safeware report from 2013, about 29% of information loss was a result of human error — but that percentage seems to have risen, according to Verizon’s report. The most common form of cyberespionage occurred through traditional phishing strategies, like infected email attachments and malicious links, despite the recent growth of high-tech viruses like those which infected chain corporations, such as Target and Home Depot.
Specifically, Verizon found that around two-thirds of cybersecurity incidents were caused by people clicking on questionable emails or URL links; 23% of people are likely to open a phishing email, and 11% actually click on the attachments in these emails (which allows a virus to infiltrate the computer). As Consumer Affairs stated, these statistics show that “more than one out of every ten people will open an email attachment from a sender they don’t even know,” and the typical phishing scam nets its first victim in just over one minute after sending out its first batch of corrupted messages.
“At this point,” Verizon’s team of researchers wrote in the report, “take your index finger, place it on your chest, and repeat ‘I am the problem,’ as long as it takes to believe it. Good — the first step to recovery is admitting the problem.”