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Compromised records grew year over year to four billion from 600 million, an increase of 566 percent, a new survey said.

The compromised records include data cybercriminals traditionally targeted like credit cards, passwords and personal health information, but IBM X-Force also noted a shift in cybercriminal strategies.

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In 2016, there were breaches related to unstructured data such as email archives, business documents, intellectual property and source code.

The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index consists of observations from more than 8,000 monitored security clients in 100 countries and data derived from non-customer assets such as spam sensors and honeynets in 2016. IBM X-Force runs network traps around the world and monitors more than eight million spam and phishing attacks daily while analyzing more than 37 billion web pages and images.

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“Cybercriminals continued to innovate in 2016 as we saw techniques like ransomware move from a nuisance to an epidemic,” said Caleb Barlow, vice president of Threat Intelligence, IBM Security. “While the volume of records compromised last year reached historic highs, we see this shift to unstructured data as a seminal moment. The value of structured data to cybercriminals is beginning to wane as the supply outstrips the demand. Unstructured data is big-game hunting for hackers and we expect to see them monetize it this year in new ways.”

The promise of profits and businesses increasing willingness to pay empowered cybercriminals to double down on ransomware in 2016. The primary delivery method for ransomware is via malicious attachments in spam emails. This fueled a 400 percent increase in spam year over year with roughly 44 percent of spam containing malicious attachments. Ransomware made up 85 percent of those malicious attachments in 2016.

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