Breaches and Leaks Soared 424% in 2018

Nearly 15 billion identity records circulated in underground communities in 2018, a 71% increase over the year as hackers targeted smaller organizations more widely, according to a new report from 4iQ.

The identity intelligence company scanned the surface, social, deep and dark web for identity related breaches to compile its latest annual report, The Changing Landscape of Identities in the Wild: The Long Tail of Small Breaches.

It claimed that, once normalized and cleansed, the stolen identity data numbered 3.6 billion records — a much lower figure than the headline raw data numbers, but still representing a 20% increase on 2017.

The firm also confirmed 12,449 breaches and leaks last year, a 424% increase on 2017, although the average size of the breach/leak was 4.7 times smaller than 2017, at nearly 217,000 records.

That’s due in part to hackers targeting larger numbers of small businesses, according to the vendor.

“Small businesses and suppliers for large companies present weak links in the value chain — they have little to no cybersecurity budgets and are far less able to secure themselves from increasingly organized hackers who are systematically targeting them,” the report noted. “Not surprisingly, in 2018, we saw a significant increase in the number of attacks on small entities.”

Cyber-criminals are also getting smarter about how they organize, aggregate and package data sets. Stolen personally identifiable information (PII) is combined with publicly available data to enable more successful account takeover, identity theft, phishing and other social engineering attacks, 4iQ said.

The report also detailed the assembly and sale of bigger “combo password lists” which collect clear text log-ins from hundreds of breaches.

“Each time a combo password collection is repackaged, new credentials are added to increase the total size, and each new package fuels renewed credential stuffing and account takeover attempts,” it said. “Combo lists containing 1.82 billion credentials resurfaced throughout 2018 and in early 2019.”

Finally, 2018 saw an uptick in the volume of voter records and government data being circulated on the cybercrime underground. In fact, public sector identity exposures jumped 291% year-on-year, a trend possibly influenced by growing geopolitical tensions, 4iQ claimed.

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