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Money, Hackers and Spies: Quick Bytes from Verizon's 2017 DBIR Report

Before diving into some initial findings of this year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), here are a few things to remember. First, the report is a subset of all incident and breach data, not a comprehensive study. It is comprised only of Verizon customers and their partners, and should be weighted as such. Second, the DBIR data sources change and diversify every year. This needs to be taken into account when making comparisons from one year to the next. Third, while the DBIR can be extremely useful, it is not gospel. Treat it as a tool, as one of many data points to help you make better security decisions for your environment.

With that, let’s take a look at some high-level findings from this year’s report.

  • Money and cyber espionage are still the two most popular motivations for attackers.
  • This year, 62 percent of breaches were hacking-related, meaning attackers used methods like backdoors, stolen credentials, brute force, desktop sharing, web applications — all things that the industry has been dealing with for years.
  • Phishing is the most common social tactic in the report dataset, accounting for 93 percent of all social engineering incidents. This reinforces the importance of organizational policies that provide employee education and awareness.
  • Top breach targets are financial organizations (24 percent), healthcare organizations (15 percent) and the public sector (12 percent) — three industries that handle sensitive information and have critical devices and infrastructure that can’t be taken offline.
  • While insider threats are potentially more damaging and easy to overlook, outsider threats are still the most common form of attack.
  • Nation-state actors made up 18 percent of breaches.

Weak passwords and stolen credentials (81 percent) are still the biggest entry method used by attackers. It’s easier than starting from scratch and finding an exploit.

It is up to the organization to enforce strong password policies and limit user credentials and access to only that level required for users to perform their jobs. Organizations should also look at their network design, and ensure the proper controls are in place to limit lateral movement once an attacker gains entry.

At some point an attacker will inevitably compromise even a well-designed and secured network. When that happens, you need to be able to spot that intrusion quickly, close off the attacker’s access and reconstitute the network defenses. Organizations need to set the bar high and at the same time make sure they are covering the basics; make sure you know what is on your network at all times, keeping up with and prioritizing patches, actively looking for indicators of compromise and then prioritizing their actions to understand their exposure and reduce their risk.

Download a free copy of the full Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report for all the details.