Hacktivist groups such as the Anonymous collective remain among the biggest security threats facing companies and governments, according to research from Verizon.
A new report from Verizon attributed 58 per cent of all data stolen in to hacktivism.
Teaming with several law enforcement agencies, including the US Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police, the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report examined 855 data breaches across 174 million stolen records.
Speaking to V3, the principal of the risk team at Verizon, Christopher Porter, highlighted the presence of Anonymous as a key contributor to hacktivism's boom.
"There's a lot of socio-economic concerns around the Occupy movement in the US and the Arab Spring in the Middle East. The Anonymous collective is indicative of discontent as a whole," he said.
"Hacktivism's been around for a while, but I think the collective as it is, when they advertise as they do, does give a voice to all that unrest."
The paper highlighted that while the some hacks were politically motivated, 79 per cent were opportunistic.
Additionally, mirroring security expert's previous sentiment, Verizon analysts reported that 96 per cent of the attacks didn't employ complex hacking techniques and that 97 per cent, "were avoidable without the need for organisations to resort to difficult or expensive countermeasures".
Verizon analysts went on to report a shift in the data being targeted by hackers, reporting that as opposed to financially valuable data, personally identifiable information has become a hacker's main target.
The report added that 95 per cent of all records lost included personal information, compared to just one per cent in 2010. This was due to hacktivists' tendency to mount attacks to "shame" companies and individuals.
"The motivation is not for financial gain, it's for ‘lulz', to protest, to embarrass and humiliate. A lot of organisations were embarrassed last year, it's an escalation," said Porter.
As a result, the report showed an increase in the use of hacking and malware, as the primary tool used by attackers to steal the confidential data.
Verizon said the use of hacking techniques during data breaches had increased 31 per cent since 2010, and now accounted for 81 per cent of all losses.
Elsewhere, malware use was listed as rising 20 per cent, with the firm now detecting its use in 69 per cent of all examined breaches.
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