What Are We Protecting Our Data From, Again?

We talk a lot about security on our blog, but one thing we haven’t discussed much is what companies need security measures to protect themselves from. It goes without saying that sensitive company information in the wrong hands is a very bad thing, but whose hands, exactly, would those be?

Recent data from Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report shows us that an incredible amount of security breaches are external in origin. According to the report, 58% of data thefts in 2011 were by activist groups (hactivists, like Anonymous). 81% of all breaches involved some sort of hacking, while 69% utilized malware to steal data. The malware statistic is particularly alarming, considering that it represents a 20% increase over the previous year, and the fact that there are tens of thousands of new malware strains popping into existence every day.

Malware is so problematic because it is constantly evolving. Social networks and smartphones have become hot new malware targets, so the ways in which our personal (and professional) data are at risk are multiplying. Some malware developers have found ways to steal information from a mobile device without actually infecting it. Malicious Chrome extensions also wreak havoc with users’ devices (like this one, which takes over your Facebook profile.) It can also be difficult to detect and get rid of.

It seems that most recent smartphone vulnerability news has to do with Android phones and apps, but iPhones aren’t in the clear, either. The bottom line is, unless you completely trust the app developer, don’t download an app from the Apple app store or the Android marketplace. And it’s generally a good idea to turn off location detection in apps for the time being, since we’ve recently seen security holes stemming from this setting.


This is blog post is more of a brief, informative, provision of context than anything else. Of course we should all do our best to keep our data and devices safe, but our efforts to do so don’t mean much if we don’t know what we’re up against. You are your own data’s best advocate, so taking the time to stay up-to-date, install security software, and regularly back up and inventory your data are important items to place on your checklist.