Verizon has taken to publishing a compilation report analyzing data breach statistics with the help of industry partners, a report that is widely regarded as a must-read for the industry. A brief review of the latest edition’s executive summary revealed where information security vulnerabilities lie in industries worldwide and, even more helpfully, what shape those vulnerabilities took. The Data Breach Investigations Report, or DBIR, pulled no punches in outlining what kind of attacks happened in the past year, and how.

The DBIR has its own system of outlining breach types that divide events and incidents into nine categories. Information-based companies appeared predominantly in four of them, with helpful tricks to prevent such breaches from happening again.

Crimeware: Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the industries crimeware targeted most was the information industry, with the DBIR citing a rise in ransomware (39 percent of all analyzed attacks in 2015 involved ransomware). While the scope the DBIR funnels under the Crimeware title is fairly large (“This covers any use of malware that doesn’t fall into a more specific pattern”), this by no means cheapens the risks – it arguably compounds them, as it only goes to show how many pieces of crimeware exist. To defend against them, the DBIR recommends frequent patches and backups as well as monitoring changes to configurations.

Web App Attacks: Considering that 95 percent of web app attacks were financially motivated in their reports, it’s no surprise that e-commerce platforms were among the most targeted by these intrusions. These attacks are often the result of a successful phishing campaign or the infiltration of a vulnerable site. The other side of web app attacks, content management system breaches, saw plenty of digital graffiti and the repurposing of infiltrated sites as phishing sites. To avoid this kind of breach, the DBIR again recommends timely patches to remove vulnerabilities, as well as utilizing two-factor authentication and input monitoring.

Cyber-espionage: Usually hunting for intellectual property, cyber-espionage attacks prefer sticking to tried-and-true methods of breaching networks, only utilizing more sophisticated methods if the simple ones don’t work. Therefore, at least in this case, basic protections may be enough to divert many of these attacks, and should not be bypassed in favor of more specialized protection. As far as avoiding issues further, keeping patches up-to-date and monitoring changes to configurations will help monumentally, as will isolating compromised devices and separating them from the rest of your network.

Miscellaneous Errors: This category took all of the “Whoops!” issues that lead to compromised security into one bundle to deal with them. While Verizon reports that 40 percent of them were caused by a server issue, many others were triggered by employee mistakes – a full 26 percent included sending a message filled with sensitive data to the wrong recipient. The DBIR suggests strengthened controls on your network as a possible way to keep away from errors, such as data loss prevention software to lock down sensitive info. Additionally, Verizon recommends thorough disposal procedures to any aged-out equipment, as well as to stay focused and learn from the mistakes from your past.

Helpful information, certainly, with all that and more being available for free download at the Verizon Enterprise webpage. But big picture – what takeaway can you not afford to leave on the table? Ultimately, an overwhelming percentage of incidents reported in the DBIR pointed blame, or at least prime responsibility, for many of the errors that led to security breaches to one thing: human error.

Between the willingness to exploit the natural fallacies of human nature by cyber criminals and the human tendency to make mistakes independently, human beings are placed solidly as the weakest link in any cyber security chain. So, if humans are the problem, what is the solution?

In short, vigilance. Strongly enforce best practices regarding security in the workplace, and follow them yourself as an example. Be aware of current trends in cyber security attacks, and prepare yourself and your company accordingly. Identify and install security measures that best fit your needs and abilities.

For help with any of this, be sure to call Think Tank NTG at 800-501-DATA first. Our ranks of professionals are here to help you when you need guidance concerning your business’ security solutions. With Think Tank NTG, you have a much greater chance of being a success than being a statistic.

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