New survey declares phishing the most common cause of data breaches

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Despite heightened global concerns over ransomware recently, a DarkReading survey has found that not only do phishing attacks happen more than 4x more frequently, but ransomware attacks have actually seen a decline in quantity when compared with last year.

The three most common data breach causes in 2021 were listed as phishing, malware, and DDoS (denial-of-service) attacks respectively. The percentage of organisations that had reported a data breach and had identified phishing as a primary cause was 53%, a 2% increase from 2020. 41% of the respondents said they experienced a data breach where malware was the primary factor.

The number of organisations that experienced a breach due to ransomware was relatively low, despite the year’s high-profile attacks. Just 13% of organisations in the survey reported a ransomware-related breach in the past 12 months, compared with 17% in the 2020 survey.

The survey found that, despite concerns about targeted attacks, companies are experiencing fewer attacks. Only 15% of respondents reported their organisations had been victims of a targeted attack in the past 12 months, down from 25% in the 2020 survey.

Whilst there is no doubt organisations should take steps to defend against ransomware and phishing attacks, the data accumulated from this survey underlines the fact that defending against these types of attacks remains challenging for most organisations.

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