Data breaches increasingly caused by hacks, malicious attacks

A new study of data breaches has found that criminal and malicious attacks accounted for 37 percent of corporate data breaches in 2011, a six percent rise from 2010. The study, performed by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Symantec, also found that these attacks were much more costly to companies than breaches caused by software or hardware failures or by internal negligence.
The study followed 49 organizations over the course of 2011, surveying over 400 IT, compliance and security professionals associated with them. While the research showed that the average cost to companies per compromised customer record had dropped to its lowest point since 2006–$194 per record–the cost of records lost through criminal and malicious acts was much higher, averaging $222 per record.

This is the first time since 2007 that criminal activity has accounted for more than a third of data breaches in Ponemon Institute’s survey. More than two-thirds of malicious attacks were achieved through some s