Gemalto, the digital security organisation, released the latest findings of the Breach Level Index, revealing that over 1,500 data breaches led to one billion data records compromised worldwide in 2014. This indicates a 49% increase in data breaches and a 78% increase in stolen/lost data records compared to 2013 according to a press release.

This announcement was made today in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Breach Level Index BLI, takes record of risks by providing a centralised, global database of data breaches and calculates their severity based on multiple dimension (type of data, numbers of records stolen, the source of the breach, if/if not the data was encrypted).

According to data in the BLI originally developed by SafeNet, the main motivation for cybercriminals in 2014 was identity theft with 54% of the all data breaches being identity theft-based, more than any breach category including access to financial data. In addition, identity theft breaches also accounted for one-third of the most severe data breaches categorized by the BLI as either Catastrophic (with a BLI score of between 9.0 and 10) or Severe (7.0 to 8.9). Secure breaches, which involved breaches of perimeter security where compromised data was encrypted in full or in part, increased to 4% from 1%.

“We’re clearly seeing a shift in the tactics of cybercriminals, with long-term identity theft becoming more of a goal than the immediacy of stealing a credit card number,” said Tsion Gonen, Vice-President of Strategy for Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto. “Identity theft could lead to the opening of new fraudulent credit accounts, creating false identities for criminal enterprises, or a host of other serious crimes. As data breaches become more personal, we’re starting to see that the universe of risk exposure for the average person is expanding.”

With the acquisition of SafeNet, Gemalto offers a complete portfolios of enterprise security solutions – industry protection of digital identities, transactions, payment and data.

Bolade Popoola Author

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