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Study reveals extent of online hacking issue

29 December 2017 - 11:25 by Graham Miller

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Researchers at the University of California have made a worrying discovery about the number of websites which are compromised by cybercriminals each year in an extensive new report, according to the Register.

One per cent of the thousands of sites that were put under scrutiny were revealed to have suffered some form of breach in the past year and a half. Spokesperson, Joe DeBlasio, said that the size and reputation of a site is not relevant to whether or not it is likely to be hit successfully by hackers.

The ingenious yet simple method used to detect which sites had suffered data theft involved creating accounts and tracking when they were accessed by a malicious third party. If this type of access was detected, it was obvious that the password data had been snatched and sold.

The team even went so far as to create thousands of e-mail accounts not linked to any other site to see whether or not it was the provider itself that was being attacked. Unsurprisingly, it was proven to be the sites themselves which were the weak link in the chain.

Consumers trust retailers to allow them to carry out safe shopping online, but in the past couple of years there have been instances of major breaches leaving private data exposed. This report is yet another sign that more needs to be done to beef up security and convince businesses that it pays to protect their users.

Although the researchers did not provide details of the precise sites which had been detected as compromised in the study, they did say that one of the biggest hitters had 45 million regular customers.

When it comes to ensuring that it is possible to carry out safe shopping online, using different passwords for each account is the best way to stay protected even after a breach.