'Hacktivists' biggest data thieves
San Francisco - Activists with hacker skills were behind more than half the data stolen in cyber attacks last year, according to findings released on Thursday by Verizon Communications.
While criminal groups accounted for an overwhelmingly majority of cyber strikes on networks, "hacktivists" were the ones who rampantly looted data once inside computers, Verizon said in an annual Data Breach Investigations Report.
"This re-imagined and re-invigorated spectre of 'hacktivism' rose to taunt organisations around the world," the US telecom titan said.
"Many, troubled by the shadowy nature of its origins and proclivity to embarrass victims, found this trend more frightening than other threats."
About 98% of computer network breaches at companies last year were the work of outsiders, with criminal groups out for profit were figured to be behind 83% of those attacks.
However, it was self-described activist organisations such as Anonymous and Lulz Security who stole 58% of the data while being involved in far fewer cyber attacks, according to Verizon.
"While good old-fashioned greed and avarice were still the prime movers, ideological dissent and schadenfreude took a more prominent role across the caseload," the report said.
The report cited data provided by the US Secret Service, the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit, the Australian Federal Police, the Irish Reporting & Information Security Service and the Police Central e-Crime Unit of the London Metropolitan Police.