Online Activists Outdo Cyber-criminals In Data Theft

So called "hacktivist" collectives, loosely tied groups of online activists such as Anonymous and LulzSec, were responsible for more data breaches than cyber-criminals last year.

That's the finding of a study commissioned by Verizon, which incorporated some 850 incidents of data theft involving 174 million records. 58 per cent of those cases were down to online activists, close to two-thirds, with the motive not being to make money, but to embarrass organisations and make a point.

Although unfortunately when those records are released into the wild, there's nothing stopping cyber-criminals from then attempting to make use of them.

Last year certainly witnessed a major step up in data theft, hacking activity and denial-of-service attacks, with high profile incidents such as several attacks on Sony, and action taken against oppressive governments, for example the Tunisian regime.

The Guardian observed that the attacks weren't always logical in picking out targets, however, noting that the report stated: "Doubly concerning for many organisations and executives was that target selection by these [cyber activist] groups didn't follow the logical lines of who has money and/or valuable information."

However, the report also observes that levels of hacktivism may drop off in 2012 following many arrests being made, and the high ranking hacker Sabu turning informant on his online buddies.

Mary Landesman, senior security researcher with Cisco, believes that will likely be a "sobering force".