network security researchOffering hope that the fight against cybercrime can be won, a statistical analysis of 100,000 security incidents over 10 years has led security experts at Verizon to conclude that “a more focused and effective approach to fighting cyberthreats” can be enacted.

Ninety-two percent of the 100,000 security incidents over the past 10 years analyzed by Verizon “can be traced to nine basic attack patterns that vary from industry to industry,” Verizon explains in a news release.

“After analyzing 10 years of data, we realize most organizations cannot keep up with cybercrime – and the bad guys are winning,” Wade Baker, principal author of Verizon’s “2014 Data Breach Investigations Report” (DBIR) series, was quoted as saying. “But by applying big data analytics to security risk management, we can begin to bend the curve and combat cybercrime more effectively and strategically.”

“Organizations need to realize no one is immune from a data breach. Compounding this issue is the fact that it is taking longer to identify compromises within an organization – often weeks or months, while penetrating an organization can take minutes or hours.”

Just three threat patterns on average account for 72 percent of security incidents in any industry, Verizon found.

Verizon identifies the nine network security threat patterns as follows:

  • Miscellaneous errors such as sending an email to the wrong person;
  • Crimeware (various malware aimed at gaining control of systems);
  • Insider/privilege misuse; physical theft/loss;
  • Web app attacks;
  • Denial of service attacks;
  • Cyberespionage;
  • Point-of-sale intrusions; and
  • Payment card skimmers.

Other key takeaways from the 2014 DBIR include:

  • Cyberespionage is up again in the 2014 report, representing a more than three-fold increase compared with the 2013 report, with 511 incidents. (This is partially due to a bigger dataset.) In addition, these attacks were found to be the most complex and diverse, with a long list of threat patterns. As it did last year, China still leads as the site of the most cyberespionage activity; but the other regions of the world are represented, including Eastern Europe with more than 20 percent.
  • For the first time, the report examines distributed denial of service attacks, which are attacks intended to compromise the availability of networks and systems so that, for example, a website is rendered useless. They are common to the financial services, retail, professional, information and public sector industries. The report points out that DDoS attacks have grown stronger year-over-year for the past three years.
  • The use of stolen and/or misused credentials (user name/passwords) continues to be the No. 1 way to gain access to information. Two out of three breaches exploit weak or stolen passwords, making a case for strong two-factor authentication.
  • Retail point-of-sale (POS) attacks continue to trend downward, exhibiting the same trend since 2011. Industries commonly hit by POS intrusions are restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers, where intruders attempt to capture payment card data. While POS breaches have been in the headlines lately, they are not indicative of the actual picture of cybercrime.
  • While external attacks still outweigh insider attacks, insider attacks are up, especially with regard to stolen intellectual property. The report points out that 85 percent of insider and privilege-abuse attacks used the corporate LAN, and 22 percent took advantage of physical access.