Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Horizons

Hacktivism accounted for majority of data theft in 2011: report

Hacktivism is rising, according to a new study from Verizon. 

By Matthew Shaer / March 22, 2012

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, symbolic of the hacktivist group Anonymous, takes part in a protest in central Brussels in January.

Reuters

Enlarge

Incidents of "hacktivism" – hacking undertaken for political purposes – accounted for an unprecedented 58 percent of all data theft in 2011, according to the new Data Breach Investigations report from Verizon. The report surveyed 855 data breaches, where a combined 174 million digital records were purloined.

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

Those breaches were reported both by government websites and corporate entities; hacker collectives LulzSec and Anonymous led the charge. 

"Hacktivism has been around for some time but it's mainly been website defacements. In 2011 it was more about going to steal a bunch of information from a company," Wade Baker, director of research and intelligence at Verizon, told the BBC. "Data theft became a mechanism for political protest," Baker added.

In the report, Verizon, pointing to the "Arab Spring" protests, called 2011 "a year of civil and cultural uprising."

Certainly, hacktivists such as LulzSec did hog a good deal of the spotlight last year, mostly by cultivating charismatic online personas – and popular Twitter feeds, where hackers could interact with their fans. "This is the first time we've had hackers who want you to know who they are," Chester Wisniewski, a senior adviser at Sophos, told the Monitor in 2011. "These guys are awesome at PR. It's very impressive." 

In related news, Verizon has been tracking an increase in automated attacks, which appear to target mostly small businesses, and not major conglomerates. 

"There's some franchise chains, but many times it's mom-and-pop cafés," Verizon analyst Chris Porter of Verizon has said, according to ReadWriteWeb. "These restaurants, retail stores, are really focused on building their business. They want to make sure when a customer comes in, they can charge him. And they're probably less concerned about data protection."

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!