The year of 2011 led to the rise of hacktivism as one of the leading causes of data breaches, according to a telecommunications and government contracting firm.
Verizon issued a report Thursday that found 58 percent of cases where data stolen to be a result of hacktivists.
This is a dramatic shift from previous years where the cyber attack culprit was typically a cybercriminal looking for financial gains, the company said.
The company said 79 percent of attacks in the 855 data breaches the company assessed were opportunistic attacks.
Nearly 96 percent of them were not difficult to perform.
The company assessed 174 million stolen records for the report.
The report may give weight to officials’ pleas for the government to pay more attention to nation-state threats as well.
The company found breaches originated from 36 countries, which is an increase from the 22 accounted for the previous year.
The company said 98 percent of data breaches could be attributed to outsider groups such as lone hackers, activist groups, former employees, organized crime or foreign government-sponsored entities.
The insider threat, which Symantec depicted as a disgruntled employees often in technical positions, has seemingly decreased to 4 percent, Verizon said.
Attacks are still largely a result of hacking or malware. Verizon said hacking was the cause of 81 precent of data breaches and 99 percent of data lost.
The company reports that external cyber attackers prefer hacking and malware since they enable them to attack multiple victims through.
By and large, third parties still detect a majority of breaches, finding 92 percent of the incidents reported in 2011.