Findings from Verizon's annual Data Breach Investigations Reports (DBIR) indicate 24% of the confirmed data breaches are found in retail and restaurants, the second largest sector after financial organizations.
DBIR is an annual study of global security trends through a combined effort from various global organizations. This is the sixth year of this study, where 19 global organizations including law enforcement agencies,national incident-reporting entities, research institutions and a number of private security firms contributed their findings on data breaches.
The study confirmed that 621 confirmed data breaches with 47,000 reported security incidents were identified in 2012. Among the confirmed data breaches, a total of 156 of them came from the retail environment or food services industry.
"Organized criminals love finance, retail and they love restaurants," said Paul Black, Asia Pacific Regional managing Principal Investigative Response. "The reason for that is they all have credit card terminals."
Black noted that most of these credit card terminals are available in public areas and connected to the public network. They are physically and virtually accessible to install malware for capturing credit card information.
The report also stated the correlation between attack motives, the victim industry and attack tactics. Financial motives drove most of the physical attacks, which includes skimmers inside ATMs, POS devices and gas pump terminals. Black added that most organized criminals are driven by financial motives and their technics are not very advanced, but they tend to launch targeted and calculated attacks.
He added that to protect financially motivated physical attacks, technical IT issues may not be the only way. He suggested a longer term solution which includes process reengineering and users education.
In addition, complying with PCI security standards are good best practices for retailers to be protected from physical attacks. But he added that organizations also need to update their compliance, as software and technology continue to advance.
"If people are PCI compliance they are usually fairly safe," said Black. "But different motivations are shifting the way people attack the system. It's not good enough just to tick the box, it should be an on-going process."