86 per cent of global data breaches aimed at monetary gain: Verizon

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Hyderabad: Financial gain remains the key driver for cybercrime with nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) breaches investigated financially-driven. Vast majority of breaches continue to be caused by external actors-70 per cent-with organised crime accounting for 55 per cent of these. Credential theft and social attacks such as phishing and business email compromises cause the majority of breaches (over 67 per cent), according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (2020 DBIR).

The 2020 DBIR also highlighted a year-over-year two-fold increase in web application breaches, to 43 per cent, and stolen credentials were used in over 80 per cent of these cases – a worrying trend as business-critical workflows continue to move to the cloud. Ransomware also saw a slight increase, found in 27 per cent of malware incidents compared to 24 per cent in 2019 DBIR.

“As remote working surges in the face of the global pandemic, end-to-end security from the cloud to employee laptop becomes paramount,” said Tami Erwin, CEO, Verizon Business. “In addition to protecting their systems from attack, we urge all businesses to continue employee education as phishing schemes become increasingly sophisticated and malicious.”

Common patterns offer defender advantage

The report has re-emphasised the common patterns found within cyber-attacks, enabling organisations to determine the bad actors’ destination while they are in progress. Linked to the order of threat actions (e.g. error, malware, hacking), these breach pathways can help predict the eventual breach target, enabling attacks to be stopped in their tracks. Organisations are therefore able to gain a “Defender’s Advantage” and better understand where to focus their security defences.

Smaller businesses are not immune

The growing number of small and medium-sized businesses using cloud and web-based applications and tools has made them prime targets for cyber-attackers. 2020 DBIR findings show that phishing is the biggest threat for small organisations, accounting for over 30 per cent of breaches. This is followed by the use of stolen credentials (27 per cent) and password dumpers (16 per cent).

Attackers targeted credentials, personal data and other internal business-related data such as medical records, internal secrets or payment information. Over 20 per cent of attacks were against web applications, and involved the use of stolen credentials.

Industry-based patterns

The report covered analysis of 16 industries, and shows that, while security remains a challenge across the board, there are significant differences across verticals.

In manufacturing, 23 per cent of malware incidents involved ransomware, compared to 61 per cent in the public sector and 80 per cent in educational services. Errors accounted for 33 per cent of public sector breaches – but only 12 per cent of manufacturing.

Regional trends

The 81 contributors involved with the 2020 DBIR have provided the report with specific insights into regional cyber-trends highlighting key similarities and differences between them. For example, financially-motivated breaches accounted for 91 per cent of cases in Northern America, compared to 70 per cent in Europe, Middle East and Africa and 63 per cent in Asia Pacific.

In the Asia Pacific region, 63 per cent of breaches were financially-motivated, and phishing attacks are also high, at over 28 per cent.


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