This year Verizon’s database grew substantially from 855 confirmed data breaches to more than 47,000 reported security incidents and 621 confirmed data breaches. While the basis for most of the statistics presented in the report is the 621 confirmed data breaches, statistics for all 47,000+ incidents are also provided. This year the RISK team decided to analyze the dataset of breaches by attack motive; state-affiliated espionage, financially motivated crimes, or activism. Looking at data breaches through this prism sheds light on several points worth mentioning.
“AM I A TARGET FOR ESPIONAGE?”
As stated in the report - “Who wants my proprietary info?” is probably a better question than “Am I a target of espionage?” Every organization has some form of proprietary or internal information it wants to keep private. This information, which is almost always tied to an organization’s competitive advantage, is inevitably of interest to someone, somewhere. As the DBIR report clearly demonstrates, everyone is a potential target for data theft regardless of the type and size of the organization, or the specific motivation of the attacker.
RAISING THE BAR
In about 70% of the data breaches the actual theft (credential and data) require few resources and little expertise – feasible with automated tools and scripts; basic methods that need no customization. Placing security measures around the data center will easily raise the bar on the required resources and the minimum level of expertise required by the attacker, thus reducing the impact of the initial compromise. The DBIR 2013 still supports the common truth that organizations do not detect breaches on their own, but rather are informed of them by an external third party. Furthermore, in many cases this detection is accidental, stumbled upon while investigating something else, and the alert is merely a courtesy.
Lack of visibility into attacks and malicious activity allows attackers to operate undetected for months. While the window of time available to detect the initial compromise is very small (seconds to minutes) and such compromises leave little-to-no evidence, the window of time available to detect malicious data access and exfiltration is much larger (hours to months). This is due to the time it takes for an attacker to explore the network, locate relevant systems, exploit those systems, and then collect and exfiltrate the data.
READY, AIM… SHOOT!
There’s a clear correlation between threat actor motives and the variety of data compromised. Unsurprisingly, the financial criminal’s motives are payment and personal information - information that can be easily monetized. The state-affiliated espionage motives however, tend to be trade secrets, internal organizational data, and system information, while hacktivists focus on personal information and internal organizational data. Despite the difference in end game, or motive, all three attackers must first acquire credentials in order to successfully breach the data they desire.