- The number of records compromised in 2016 grew 566% year-over-year to more than 4 billion, according to the 2017 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index released Wednesday by IBM Security. In 2015, 600 million records were compromised.
- IBM X-Force also noted a new trend: breaches of "unstructured data such as email archives, business documents, intellectual property and source code" grew significantly in 2016, calling it a "seminal moment."
- Meanwhile, ransomware delivered via malicious attachments in spam emails drove a 400% increase in spam year-over-year.
The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index is comprised of observations from more than 8,000 monitored security clients in 100 countries and data derived from non-customer assets such as spam sensors and honeynets in 2016, according to IBM.
Cybercriminals are still winning the security battle. The rise in theft of unstructured data is notable. It appears that when cybercriminals can’t find what they want, they simply look elsewhere.
"The value of structured data to cybercriminals is beginning to wane as the supply outstrips the demand," said Caleb Barlow, VP of threat intelligence at IBM Security. "Unstructured data is big-game hunting for hackers and we expect to see them monetize it this year in new ways."
The financial services and healthcare industries tend to see the most cyberattacks, according to IBM. Financial services were targeted the most by cyberattacks last year, but when it comes to compromised records, financial services ranked third.
Increased investments in security practices likely helped protect financial institutions more effectively in 2016. Financial institutions around the globe began stepping up efforts to protect themselves from cyberattacks following the Bangladesh heist last February, wherein cybercriminals used the SWIFT banking network to steal nearly $81 billion from an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.