Building Trust 25 January 2018

2017 Cyber Incident & Breach Trends Report

This year marks the Online Trust Alliance’s tenth annual publication related to cyber incidents and breach readiness. Now an initiative of the Internet Society, OTA reviews cyber incident and breach events to extract key learnings and provide guidance to help organizations of all sizes around the world raise the bar on trust through enhanced data protection and increased defense against evolving threats. This Cyber Incident & Breach Trends Report builds on last year’s expanded recognition of threats beyond just data breaches to include ransomware, business email compromise (BEC), distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and connected device vulnerability.

These increasing threats challenge all manner of organizations – businesses, health and education institutions, governments – and also impact their clients, customers and citizens. This report is a precursor to the Cyber Incident & Breach Readiness Guide to be published in the first quarter of 2018. The Guide will provide knowledge, guidance and resources to help a broad range of stakeholders – from executive decision-makers to technical security experts to privacy professionals – prevent, detect, mitigate and effectively respond to a cyber incident.

The past year has brought high-profile data exposures including Equifax, Uber, Verizon, Ai.Type (Israel), DU Caller (China), Taringa! (Argentina) and Zomato (India), demonstrating that even organizations with substantial resources and expertise in data and technology can find themselves inappropriately defended and unprepared. All organizations must adopt an attitude of expectation – breach attacks will happen – and develop the dual view of defense:

  1. Implement strong data stewardship (including security, privacy and risk reduction) through all phases of the data lifecycle, recognizing the global regulatory landscape and its impact on breach readiness (e.g., GDPR enforcement beginning in May 2018)
  2. Prepare strong, well-practiced incident response measures (including a well-designed plan, appropriate team, predetermined action steps, regular training and testing)

The exponential growth in data and its value make data assets mission-critical to all organizations. Its appropriate use and protection is not just a question of compliance to be handled by a specific department or expert team. Data protection and readiness for all manner of cyber incidents must become part of the shared responsibility of all employees across all organizational functions. While there is no perfect defense against a determined attacker, the best practices outlined here and detailed in the complete Cyber Incident & Breach Readiness Guide at can help greatly reduce a company’s attack surface and the impact of an incident.

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