In response to rumors in the financial industry that Sears may be the latest retailer hit by hackers, the company said today it has no indications that it has been breached. Although the Sears investigation is ongoing, experts say there is a good chance the identification of Sears as a victim is a false alarm caused by a common weaknesses in banks’ anti-fraud systems that becomes apparent mainly in the wake of massive breaches like the one at Target late last year.
The number of consumer and financial records compromised as a result of data breaches in 2010 fell dramatically compared to previous years, a shift that cybercrime investigators attribute to a sea-change in the motives and tactics used by criminals to steal information. At the same time, organizations are dealing with more breaches than ever before, and most data thefts continue to result from security weaknesses that are relatively unsophisticated and easy to prevent.
As a rule, I tend to avoid writing about reports and studies unless they offer truly valuable and actionable insights: Too often, reports have preconceived findings and that merely serve to increase hype and drum up business for the companies that commission them. But I always make an exception for the annual data breach report issued by the Verizon Business RISK team, which is so chock full of hype-slaying useful data and conclusions that it is often hard to know what not to write about from the report.