Key Findings from 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report: 28% of Breaches Traced Back to Insiders


Malware attacks, cyber-fraud on the rise, talk of hackers compromising elections: the past couple of years have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that cyber-crime is extending its reach and becoming more and more elaborate and dangerous. Against this landscape, the new 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon sheds some light on recent trends and allows IT and web security professionals to get a better grip on what is to come.

Threats Come from Unexpected Places

The report, which is available for download on Verizon’s website, examined over 53,000 security incidents in the past 12 months and a total of 2,216 data breaches that occurred across 65 countries. The report concludes that data breaches deeply affect businesses, spilling over from the IT department to legal work and ultimately affecting the performance of frontline employees. The main motive behind cyber-attacks is profit: Verizon found that 76% of the security breaches uncovered were made with the objective of gaining money. This is why their aim is often to steal sensitive financial data like blanking and credit card details.

Another particularly worrying conclusion is that insiders are to blame for more than a quarter of the attacks. Roughly 28% of data breaches led back to someone inside the organization, which makes it that much more difficult to prepare and protect against. Furthermore, 17% of breaches were due to an error and not a malicious act. This affects how businesses design and implement their data security policy, which aims at securing their data from attacks as well as complying with regulatory requirements like HIPAA, SOX and GDPR. Big databases and data stored on the cloud, where a lot of employees have access, means that enterprises need to update their data security approach in order to take into account threats coming from within – both intentional and by accident.

Ransomware Tops Malware Incidents

A stunning finding is that ransomware is at the heart of most malware threats – in fact, it is traced in 39% of malware incidents. This means that, even after the devastating effects of attacks like WannaCry and Petya, we have yet to tackle this rising threat. According to the report, ransomware is on the rise because it is very effective without requiring too much hacking skill to create and launch an attack. Cyber-criminals are not only targeting single users any more. Instead, they are focusing on databases and file servers as well, which could end up in causing exponentially more damage – and making attackers much more money.

Even in the face of such persistent attacks, our reflexes seem to remain much too slow for our own good. Verizon found that almost 70% of data breaches remain undiscovered for months or even more. However, raising awareness greatly helps – 78% of individuals surveyed for the report did not fall for a single phishing scam. On the other hand, an average of 4% of victims targeted by a phishing campaign will click on the malicious link. And, to make matters worse, the more times someone has fallen for a phishing scam, the more likely they are to click on phishing emails again.

Even though the findings may be bleak, reports such as this are extremely important. They enable us to better understand what is going on and better prepare for the next battles against cyber-criminals. The lesson to take away from the key findings? Get informed, train your employees, and be vigilant.