Negligence the 'main reason' for cyber hacking

Cape Town - Negligence has been cited as the key reason for cyber security breaches, new research shows.

According to data from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, 40% of breaches in 2014 were the result of carelessness by an employee or contractor.

Malicious or criminal attacks resulted in 38% of incidents, while 22% was the result of computer or hardware problems.

"Think of criminals who used to watch your home for the most opportune time to break in, now equate that to someone happily gathering information about you until they have enough to exploit you, or your company," said Kevin McKerr, Security Sales leader for IBM South Africa.

The company found that incomplete or insufficient bring your own device (BYOD) policies at companies facilitated the leaking of sensitive data which could result in losses.


According to an underwriter Candice Sutherland around 974 million company records were lost or stolen in 2014, resulting in losses of at least R5.8bn.

The lack of care regarding digital information is likely to cause further damage to both individuals and companies.

"We have no choice but to acknowledge that these digital storms are likely to become larger, grow more encompassing and raise increasingly important personal privacy concerns," McKerr said.

Digital security firm Kaspersky Lab found that 41% of people take no precautions with their personal data and regularly share smart devices.

"Sharing a computer or smartphone increases the risk of malware infection, data loss or account theft, so it is important to take precautions," said Peter Aleshkin, Consumer Marketing Group manager in Emerging Markets for Kaspersky Lab.

Watch Professor David Taylor explain how you should take personal responsibility for your personal data:

Key to a cyber criminal's activity is being able to steal personal data such an ID which could then be used to perpetrate financial fraud.

"ID theft is the fastest growing crime in the world today. It is estimated to generate half a trillion US dollars. Javelin Research claims that every 79 seconds somebody has their identity stolen. ID theft leads to more serious crimes, including money laundering, human trafficking and terrorism," Independent Identity Verification expert Dawid Jacobs told Fin24 recently.

Personal risk

People increase their vulnerability by using easily breakable pass codes or none at all. Smart mobile devices make ideal targets because of the personal information they may contain.

McKerr argued that data negligence would place both companies and individuals at risk.

"Human error is a major factor when securing the enterprise, and often employees have no idea what they should be protecting themselves from. Enabling systems of cyber crime education will go a long way to ensure future security for business."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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