Key Findings: The Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report

Key Findings: The Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report

Verizon today released the “Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report.” This annual report details the current cybersecurity threat landscape faced by enterprises today. In fact, Verizon positions its 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report as a tool for keeping IT security teams informed. In the report, Verizon analyzed a total of 157,525 incidents; of those, 32,002 met their quality standards, and researchers confirmed 3,950 as data breaches.

The Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that external actors caused the majority of breaches (70 percent). This disputes a commonly held myth that internal actors cause the majority of breaches; the truth may lie in increased reporting of internal actors coloring the perception of IT security members. 

Other key findings from the Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report include: 

  • 45 percent of breaches featured hacking. 
  • 22 percent of breaches began with internal errors.
  • 17 percent involved malware. 
  • Organized criminal groups initiated 55 percent of breaches. 
  • 30 percent involved internal actors.
  • 72 percent of breaches involved large businesses.
  • Critically, 86 percent of breaches were financially motivated.

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

Cybersecurity Experts On the Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report 

Several cybersecurity experts commented on the release of this critical cybersecurity report. Here are a few of their responses: 

Chris Rothe

Chris Rothe is Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Red Canary 

“One trend that we see continuing in this report is the decline in the use of malware in breaches. It is down to 17 percent this year from 28 percent last year. Attackers continue to adapt to a world where defenders have made it more difficult to use malicious binaries through living off the land techniques. This is why the need for behavior-based detection and great security operations are paramount for defending against modern attacks.

Not surprisingly, phishing was involved in nearly one-quarter of breaches. In our work, we find phishing as the most prevalent delivery mechanism by far. Phishing is a great example of something that cannot be fully prevented. Because email is a critical business function, it has to be optimized for its business function and not security in most cases. There are many strategies IT teams can use to reduce the number of successful phishing attackers (email blocking, stripping and analyzing attachments, awareness training, etc.). But there is no 100 percent solution.”

Mark Bower

Mark Bower is Senior Vice President at comforte AG

“The report shows the Great Digital Train Robbery is alive and well. External, multi-faceted, and industrialized hacking continues to pepper large enterprises at 72 percent of overall victims. It’s no surprise that web application patterns, around 45 percent of attacks, expose technology services firms, retail, financial and insurance services, and professional services most to compromise. They are the highest aggregators of highly sensitive data with substantial third-party data sharing risk. Personal data theft is trending up, now 49 percent of retail breaches, overtaking payment data at 47 percent putting privacy regulation risk high on the compliance agenda.

70 percent of breaches were from external actors, insiders 30 percent, and human left doors open in 22 percent of cases. In a world quickly moving to post-COVID-19 cloud IT, now 24 percent of investigated breaches, enterprises have no choice but to modernize data security strategies to neutralize data from attack or become a victim. 

The numbers don’t lie –  the barrier between attackers and valuable sensitive data can be broken, enabling rapid data theft and abuse unless the real data has no value in the attacker’s hands. Industries that progressively shielded data with contemporary security measures like data tokenization and encryption showed a strong decline in breach impact (POS attack incidents trended close to zero), but attackers followed the path of least resistance – to online compromise opportunities – now 50 percent of retail breaches.” 

How to Learn More

You can download the Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report here. You can learn more about Endpoint Security in our Buyer’s Guide

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Ben Canner

Editor, Cybersecurity at Solutions Review
Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
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