New Delhi: Hacking activities increased worldwide last year and majority of the data breaches were aimed at advancing political and social objectives rather than financial gains, says a report.
    
There has been a dramatic rise of "hacktivism -- cyberhacking -- to advance political and social objectives". Last year, about 58 percent of data stolen were attributed to hacktivism, according to 'Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report'.
    
"The new trend contrasts sharply with the data-breach pattern of past several years, during which the majority of attacks were carried out by cybercriminals, whose primary motivation was financial gain," communications major Verizon noted.
    
Data breaches were also noticed in India, the US and 34 other countries.
    
External attacks were the main cause for data breaches, with 98 percent of them attributable to outsiders. This includes organised crime, activist groups, former employees, lone hackers and even organisations sponsored by foreign governments.
    
"Seventy-nine percent of attacks represented in the report were opportunistic... Additionally, 97 percent of the attacks were avoidable, without the need for organisations to resort to difficult or expensive counter measures," it added.
    
Further, the report said that breaches originated from 36 countries and nearly 70 percent of breaches originated in Eastern Europe.
    
"The use of hacking and malware increased in conjunction with the rise in external attacks in 2011.  Hacking appeared in 81 percent of breaches (compared with 50 percent in 2010), and malware appeared in 69 percent (compared with 49 percent in 2010)," it said.
    
The report -- spanning 855 data breaches across 174 million stolen records -- has been prepared by Verizon with contributions from US Secret Service, the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit, the Australian Federal Police, the Irish Reporting & Information Security Service and the Police Central e-Crime Unit of the London Metropolitan Police.

(Agencies)