Alarming statistics show human error remains primary cause of personal data breaches
20th August 2019 - London, UK - Figures released today by Egress, the leading provider of people-centric data security solutions, obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, highlight concerning statistics on human error remaining the main cause of personal data breaches (PDBs).
The figures show that of the 4856 PDBs reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) between January 1 and June 20, 2019, 60% were the result of human error.
Of those incidents, almost half (43%) were the result of incorrect disclosure, with 20% posting or faxing data to the incorrect recipient. Nearly a fifth (18%) were attributed to emailing information to incorrect recipients or failing to use Bcc, and 5% were caused by providing data in a response to a phishing attack.
Tony Pepper, CEO, Egress comments: “These statistics are alarming. All too often, organizations fixate on external threats, while the biggest cause of breaches remains the fallibility of people and an inherent inability of employees to send emails to the right person. Not every insider breach is the result of reckless or negligent employees, but regardless, the presence of human error in breaches means organizations must invest in technology that works alongside the user in mitigating the insider threat.”
The statistics further compound findings from the Insider Data Breach survey 2019, research commissioned by Egress and conducted by independent research company Opinion Matters. The research, which gathered responses from over 500 IT leaders and 4,000 employees to assess the root causes of internal data breaches, as well as their frequency and impact, showed that 95% of IT leaders are concerned about insider threat. The research also showed that 79% of IT leaders believed that employees have put company data at risk accidentally in the last 12 months, whilst 61% believe they have done so maliciously. Healthcare continues to top the list
Analysing the ICO’s personal data breaches in this period, by sector, reveals the following industries top the list:
- 18% were reported within Healthcare
- 16% were reported within Central and Local Government
- 12% were reported within Education
- 11% were reported within Justice and Legal
- 9% were reported within Financial Services
In Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, healthcare was the only industry where the insider threat created more data breaches than external attacks (59% of data breaches are associated with internal actors). According to Verizon, mis-delivery was the most common type of human error that led to data breaches, making up 15% of all data breaches affecting healthcare organizations.
Pepper continues: “The healthcare sector persistently tops the list when analysing the sectors affected by data breaches. This is very concerning, especially given the nature of the data. Why this particular industry continues to suffer from internal breaches is worrying and the sector must quickly take action to identify how it can work towards mitigating the insider threat.”
“What’s equally worrying is that the statistics obtained from our FOI request leave us in a ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario. When the ICO released its Q1 statistics last year it showed that between April and June 2018 3416 data security incidents were reported, most of which were again down to human error, failed processes and inadequate policies. The data revealed that of those 3146 ‘security incidents’ incorrect disclosure of data accounted for 65%, as opposed to external ‘cyber threats’ caused by malware, ransomware, brute force attacks and phishing, which accounted for around 13%,” he adds.
Egress takes a people-centric approach to data security – helping users receive, manage and share sensitive data securely to meet compliance requirements and drive business productivity. Using machine learning, Egress ensures information is protected relative to the risk of a data breach and reduces user friction to ensure smooth adoption.
Trusted by enterprise organizations and governments around the globe, Egress’ award-winning platform provides email encryption, secure file transfer and online collaboration services, as well as risk management, accidental send prevention, and compliance auditing and reporting.
Egress is headquartered in London, with regional offices in the UK, the US, Canada and the Netherlands.
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Brian Merrill, fama PR on behalf of Egress
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Rebecca Bailey, Marketing and communications
+44 (0) 207 624 8500