4 Key Takeaways from Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report

If there’s one thing that the very opinionated and often fractious IT and cybersecurity field can agree on, it’s this: Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) is the one security report you should read every year. Not skim; read.

The recently released 2019 DBIR is no exception. Now in its 12th installment, this year’s DBIR is full of real-world findings of reported compromises and data breaches from around the globe. This hard data—along with trend analysis and an industry-by-industry breakdown of attacks—makes the report a vital tool that can help you and your team stay on top of the constantly evolving threat landscape. Following are some of the key findings from this year’s DBIR.

2019 By the Numbers

Threat Actors:

  • 56% External, 44% Internal, 2% Partner

Top 3 Patterns:

  • Miscellaneous errors, Web Applications, and Cyber-Espionage represented 83% of causal factors behind the data breaches in 2019

Actor Motives:

  • 67% Financial, 29% Espionage related

Data Compromised:

  • 47% Personal Data, 34% Credentials, 22% Secrets

Key Takeaways

1. Bad News for C-level Executives

If you’re in the c-suite, congratulations! You are now twelve times more likely to be the target of an attack and nine times more likely to have someone scraping your social media for open source intelligence about you, your habits, and your organization.

In 2019, the number of data breaches that compromised executives rose significantly. Financially-motivated social engineering attacks have multiple full-spectrum vectors that can be combined to make both information-gathering and targeted attacks particularly successful —and even more so when delivered against targets using smartphones.

2. The Only Constant is Change

Attackers are constantly adapting their tactics to fit the changing IT landscape. As more and more organizations transition to cloud-based hosting for applications, email, and data storage, attackers have also shifted their focus. Instead of just attacking your organization, they’re spending just as much time trying to crack their way into your service providers. And just because you’ve outsourced the risk to another company doesn’t mean that you’ve mitigated the threat. Credential theft, phishing attacks, and insider threats happen to everyone—even the most security-conscious cloud hosts.

3. Maintain Your Security Hygiene

More than 20% of the breaches this year resulted from attackers taking advantage of human error. While it’s difficult to stop mistakes from happening, simple checks and balances within an organization as well as an ongoing commitment to security can go a long way to combatting this threat. Be sure to clean up errors where possible and create a security baseline around your externally facing assets like web servers and cloud services. Know what you’re protecting and know what it’s made of. Rigorously scan for known vulnerabilities and ensure a patching and software assurance program stays on top of new threats.

4. There Is Good News

While the sheer number and complexity of attacks can sometimes make you feel like it’s impossible to keep up, the reality is that there are some very simple processes that you can put in place to mitigate the threats. Note that I said processes, not tools. The “white hat” cybersecurity toolkit is growing daily, and there are both amazing companies and amazing products that can be leveraged to help make your organization safer. But no tool is perfect, and no amount of spending alone can guarantee protection. Process improvement and best practices combined with tools—often those you already have in place—can make all the difference.

If you don’t have time to read through the report, you can also Watch the DBIR webinar. Or learn more about how our collaborative approach to cybersecurity can help protect your organization from bad actors.

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