Data Loss Incidents Affected over 1 Billion People in Last 5 Years, KPMG Finds

The company has published its “The Data Loss Barometer” report

KPMG International has released its “The Data Loss Barometer” report. According to the study, the recent corporate data loss incidents have recorded the highest levels since 2008.

The figures show that over 1 billion people were affected by data loss attacks in the past five years, most of the incidents being a result of hacking.

“Instead of a company staying ahead of aggressive breaches in data systems, the threat of severe data loss is getting ahead of the current security, which is a dangerous trend,” commented Greg Bell , a partner at KPMG LLP.

“We found that to be especially true in the government, education and technology sectors, which experienced the most incidents in the past five years.”

As expected, the use of mobile devices for business purposes has led to a significant rise in data loss threats.

Health care and professional services organizations, which maintain the largest databases of personal information, are responsible for losing the personal details of 18.5 million people in PC theft incidents alone. PC theft accounted for one third of the total incidents that marked these industry sectors in the first half of 2012.

“If a laptop with a formula for a new cancer drug is stolen, it could have the potential for a billion dollar loss to a company's future revenue; but if a laptop is lost with health records for two million patients, that could be a reputational mark from which they can't recover,” Bell noted.

“Executives and boards need to be a part of the discussion around the most effective way to protect this information from all types of loss because it could mean unrecoverable damage to a firm.”

The report has also found that in the last five years, government, healthcare, education, retail and financial services have been the worst performing sectors.

Data loss caused by human or system error, or as a result of social engineering attacks is most likely to occur in the insurance sector.

Another noteworthy finding of KPMG’s study is that in the first half of 2012, over 96% of incidents that affected the media industry were attributed to hacking.

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