A so-called "mega breach" can be worth as much as 50 smaller attacks
Large scale cyber attacks are on the rise, says security firm Symantec, which dubbed 2013 "Year of the Mega Breach." According to Symantec, there's a significant shift taking place in how cybercriminals operate. Rather than go in for quick hits with small rewards, cybercriminals are seeing the financial benefit in plotting bigger attacks months in advance. A single mega breach, as Symantec calls these attacks, can yield the same reward as 50 small scale attacks.
"While the level of sophistication continues to grow among attackers, what was surprising last year was their willingness to be a lot more patient – waiting to strike until the reward is bigger and better," said Sheldon Hand, regional manager for Rest of Africa, Symantec.
Symantec says there were eight mega breaches in 2013, compared to just one mega breach the year prior. As far as the bigger picture goes, there was a 62 percent increase in the overall number of data breaches from the previous year, which resulted in 552 million exposed identities.
"Nothing breeds success like success – especially if you’re a cybercriminal," said Hand. "The potential for huge paydays means large-scale attacks are here to stay. Companies of all sizes need to re-examine, re-think and possibly re-architect their security posture."
Targeted attacks jumped 91 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 and lasted an average of three times longer. Interestingly, personal assistant and people working in public relations were the two most targeted professions, Symantec says.