Hacker attacks are increasingly motivated by political and social reasons, targeting large organizations with familiar brand names, and less by financial gain, according to a Verizon Communications Inc. report.
In 2011, 58 percent of computer data stolen was attributed to “hacktivism,” according to a report on electronic crime released today by New York-based Verizon. That contrasts with the data-breach pattern of the past several years, during which the majority of attacks were carried out by criminals whose primary motivation was financial gain, the report said.
“Electronic crimes are not just about the money anymore,” Bryan Sartin, Washington, D.C.-based director of investigative response at Verizon, said in an interview. “That is a major landscape shift.”
Activist hackers target the world’s largest companies, while financial electronic crimes more often target small to mid-size businesses, Sartin said.
In the Netherlands, Royal KPN NV recently had to temporarily block the e-mail accounts of about 2 million clients after a hacker broke into a server domain and confidential information from 539 users was put online. Royal Philips Electronics also said a hacker gained access to some of its websites.
Verizon’s report, which uses data from law enforcement parties including the U.S. Secret Service, the London Metropolitan Police and a high-tech crime unit of the Netherlands, found 855 data breaches across 174 million stolen records in 2011. That’s the second-biggest data loss Verizon has seen since it began collecting data in 2004.
Breaches originated from 36 countries around the globe, an increase from 22 countries the year prior.