The number of online security breaches in Canadian industry and government has increased 29 per cent over the past year, according to a study.


Canadian government and businesses reported a 29 per cent increase in detected security breaches in 2010 compared with 2009, although overall resulting costs are down 78 per cent. ((iStock))

But the research, from the University of Toronto's faculty of management and telecom company Telus, found that the cost of security breaks has dropped substantially, due to more efficient security practices.

The study found that government agencies countrywide saw their average annual number of online security breaches increase from 13.4 reported in 2009 to 22.4 in 2010, a 74 per cent hike, and more than double the number of breaches reported by the private sector.

But the study found that rather than exposing sloppy security, the dramatic increase in government breaches was caused by better security and detection. In short, governments are detecting security breaches it would not have noticed in the past.

Better IT security is also credited with the finding that the cost of security breaches is down, even though the number detected is up.

The overall cost of security breaches decreased by 78 per cent over the past year, due mainly to better protection technology and organizations' ability to react quickly once a breach has been detected, according to the study.

The study notes that as the victims of technological crimes get savvier, so do the people pulling off the attacks.

In 2010 the numbers of nuisance attacks, such as denial of service, have fallen. Now, technological interlopers are more focused on making money, by stealing either company secrets or personal identities.

The study is based on responses from 523 business and government IT staff to a 43-question survey sent over the summer.