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2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report



Based on forensic evidence collected from 65 partner organizations as well as the Verizon caseload, the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) presents a rare and comprehensive view into the world of corporate cybercrime. Now in its eleventh year of publication, this research has been used by thousands of organizations to evaluate and improve their security programs. The presentation will discuss the evolution of results over the years, and delve into the people, methods and motives that drive attackers today to better inform your own security program.
Research report
2018 Data Breach
11th edition
First-time reader?
Don’t be shy—welcome to the party. As always, this report
is comprised of real-world data breaches and security
incidents—either investigated by us or provided by one of our
outstanding data contributors.
The statements you will read in the pages that follow are data-
driven, either by the incident corpus that is the foundation of
this publication, or by non-incident datasets contributed by
several security vendors.
We combat bias by utilizing these types of data as opposed to
surveys, and collecting similar data from multiple sources. We
use analysis of non-incident datasets to enrich and support
our incident and breach findings. Alas, as with any security
report, some level of bias does remain, which we discuss in
Appendix E.
Incidents vs. breaches
We talk a lot about incidents and breaches and we use
the following definitions:
A security event that compromises the integrity,
confidentiality or availability of an information asset.
An incident that results in the confirmed disclosure—
not just potential exposure—of data to an
unauthorized party.
VERIS resources
The Vocabulary for Event Recording and Incident
Sharing (VERIS) is free to use and we encourage people
to integrate it into their existing incident response
reporting, or at least kick the tires. features information on the
framework with examples and enumeration listings. features the full VERIS schema. provides access to our
database on publicly disclosed breaches, the VERIS
Community Database.
About the cover
The arc diagram on the cover is based on the data
in Appendix C: Beaten paths. It illustrates the actors,
actions, and attributes as nodes; and the order of their
occurrence in attack paths as edges—see the callout
on page 54 for more information. We've counted how
many times each node occurs in each path and sized
them accordingly—the larger the node, the more times
it appeared. The edges between nodes are represented
as arcs between points. The color of each arc is based
on how often an attack proceeds from one node to
the next.
Introduction .......................................................................... 4
Summary of findings .................................................................. 5
Results and analysis .................................................................. 6
Social attacks: We’re only human ...................................................... 11
Ransomware, botnets, and other malware insights ....................................... 14
Denial of Service: Storm preparations .................................................. 19
Incident Classification Patterns ........................................................22
Mind your own industry ...............................................................25
Accommodation and Food Services ...................................................27
Education ..........................................................................29
Financial and Insurance .............................................................. 31
Healthcare ..........................................................................33
Information .........................................................................35
Manufacturing ......................................................................37
Professional, Technical and Scientific Services ..........................................39
Public Administration ................................................................. 41
Retail ............................................................................. 44
Wrap up ............................................................................47
Appendices .........................................................................48
Appendix A: Countering cybersecurity threats ......................................... 49
Appendix B: Feeling vulnerable? ...................................................... 50
Appendix C: Beaten paths ............................................................54
Appendix D: Year in review ...........................................................58
Appendix E: Methodology ........................................................... 60
Appendix F: Data destruction .........................................................63
Appendix G: Timely and appropriate breach response for better outcomes ................ 64
Appendix H: Web applications .........................................................65
Appendix I: Contributing organizations ................................................ 66
I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety
Henry V: Act 3, Scene 2
A most sincere thank you, dear reader, for joining us for this,
the 11th installment of the Verizon Data Breach Investigations
Report (DBIR). It is dicult to overstate our gratitude to you for
your continued interest in and support of this publication. Over
the last 11 years, there have been various twists and turns,
iterations and additions to the DBIR, but our ultimate goal has
remained the same—to inform you on the threats you face and
to provide support, instruction and encouragement on how
best to protect against them.
This year we have over 53,000 incidents and
2,216 confirmed data breaches.
The report is full of dirty deeds and unscrupulous activities
committed by strangers far away and by those you thought
you knew. It is our continued hope that you can take away
useful and instructive tips from this report to help you avoid
having those things happen to you in 2018.
The quote at the beginning of this section was spoken by
a young boy about to go into battle for the first time, and
if we are honest, we can all probably identify with him to
some degree. We all crave safety (and perhaps also ale), but
it seems there’s no safety to be had in today’s world. The
reality is that there has never been a world devoid of risk at
any time, but at least in the past no one was bombarded by
incessant negativity (unless their mother in law lived with
them), with rumors of disaster, economic collapse, war and
famine pouring in an unending stream into their lives from
TVs, laptops, tablets and phones. Modernity aords us little
refuge from the onslaught of depressing and distressing media
headlines. What then should we do? Unplug everything, stock
up on MREs (meals ready to eat) and move to the mountains?
It’s one option, but you’d probably miss things such as indoor
plumbing and air conditioning. Another (and we think, better)
alternative is to accept that while there’s little guarantee of
total safety, there does exist the ability to proactively act to
protect what you value.
At first glance, it is possible that one could view this report
as describing an information security dystopia since it is
made up of incidents where the bad guys won, but we don’t
think that is the correct way to look at it. Rather than simply
seeing the DBIR as a litany of nefarious events that have been
successfully perpetrated against others and therefore, may
happen to you, think of it more as a recipe for success. If you
want your security program to prosper and mature, defend
against the threats exposed in these pages.
The DBIR was created to provide a place for a security
practitioner to look for data-driven, real-world views on what
commonly befalls companies with regard to cybercrime.
That need to know what is happening and what we can do
to protect ourselves is why the DBIR remains relevant over a
decade later. We hope that as in years past, you will be able
to use this report and the information it contains to increase
your awareness of what tactics attackers are likely to use
against organizations in your industry, as a tool to encourage
executives to support much-needed security initiatives,
and as a way to illustrate to employees the importance
of security and how they can help. As always, this report
would not be possible without the collaboration of our data-
sharing community, so thank you again, contributors. We also
encourage you, the reader, to consider joining forces with us in
the future by providing data that can be added to this corpus
that will help us all to be better informed and thereby better
equipped to keep ourselves out of the headlines.
The report will begin with a few high-level trends and findings
from this year’s data. Next, we will take a look at problems such
as malware (with a focus on ransomware), Denial of Service
(DoS) attacks and the social engineering aspect of cybercrime,
and how they continue to plague us. From there we will take a
brief look at the nine incident classification patterns (yes, they
still cover the vast majority of both incidents and breaches), and
then we will dig deeper into the various industries that we have
sucient data to examine in detail. We will explore the beauty
that is vulnerability management and dip our toes into analysis
of event chains and the paths taken by the adversary. Finally,
we wrap things up with our annual review of the newsworthy
InfoSec events from 2017.
Data subsets
We have received a considerable amount of breach data
involving botnets that target organizations’ customers,
infecting their personally owned devices with malware
that captures login details. Those credentials are then
used to access banking applications and other sites with
authentication. These are legitimate breaches, but due
to the sheer number of them (over 43,000 successful
accesses via stolen credentials), they would drown out
everything else. We point out where this exclusion would
have most aected results, and discuss these breaches
separately in the “Ransomware, botnets, and other
malware” insights section. We have created subsets of
other bulk incidents in the past, and detailed those in
“Appendix E: Methodology.”
Summary of findings1
1. We filtered out point-of-sale (POS) malware associated with a spree that aected numerous victims in the Accommodation and Food Services industry as it
did not reflect the vector percentage across all industries.
Who’s behind the breaches?
perpetrated by outsiders
involved internal actors
involved partners
featured multiple parties
of breaches were carried out by organized
criminal groups
of breaches involved actors identified as nation-state or
Who are the victims?
of breaches aected healthcare organizations
of breaches involved accommodation and food services
were breaches of public sector entities
of victims are categorized as small businesses
What tactics are utilized?
of breaches featured hacking
included malware
of breaches had errors as causal events
were social attacks
involved privilege misuse
of breaches involved physical actions
What are other commonalities?
of non-POS malware was installed via malicious email1
of breaches were financially motivated
of breaches were motivated by the gain of strategic
advantage (espionage)
of breaches took months or longer to discover
Results and analysis
We have strived to diversify our annual dataset by engaging
external collaborators, domestic and international, public
and private, large and small. We have seen our number
of contributors increase over the years and have realized
changes in our contributor base in every year since the third
publication. These changes in contributors, and the potential
changes in their areas of focus add a layer of diculty when
identifying trends over time. We must be diligent to ensure we
are not making a proclamation that is heavily influenced by a
single contributor or an isolated event. What follows is a look
back in time regarding several components of data breaches,
namely the threat actors, their motives, and the actions they
leverage. A closer look at overall results specific to this year’s
dataset is also included.
We define who is behind the data breach as the threat
actor. You may have dierent and less G-rated names for
them, which is fine—we do not judge. When looking at how
threat actors are represented from a high level we see that
individuals outside of the organization continue their reign as
the most common thorn in your side.
20132012 20172015 20162014
Actor motives in breaches
2011 20122010 20172015 20162013 2014
Actors involved in breaches
Partner Multiple
Figure 1. Threat actors within breaches over time Figure 2. Threat actor motives within breaches over time
The percentage of internal actors Figure 1 is holding steady,
but it is important to note that there is little variance in
the last two years, and that is after we removed breaches
associated with botnet takedowns. That will aect the number
of externally driven breaches in the figure above. Had we
included all 43,000 of the botnet breaches it would have
skewed the results to the detriment of usability.
Actor motives have historically been driven by financial gain,
followed by strategic advantage aka espionage. Just under
90% of breaches fall into these two motives, with money once
again leading the charge. The rollercoaster eect shown when
comparing financial motivations and espionage is certainly not
indicative that state-aliated actors take years o. Reasons
for apparent drops in espionage can stem from a few large
financially motivated crime sprees that were investigated by
our law enforcement contributors or other spikes in easy,
repeatable, and lucrative attacks. These bolster the number of
financially motivated incidents that we have in our corpus, and
it is important to remember that espionage breaches by their
very nature typically take longer to find and don’t have external
fraud detection as a potential discovery method.
We have seven categories of threat actions that we track in
our incidents. The last year has seen a decrease in malware
and hacking. Again, the treatment of botnet infections is
a major influencer in this change (therefore we will not be
screaming “THIS IS A TREND” from the mountaintops).
Phishing individuals (Social) and installing keyloggers
(Malware) to steal credentials (Hacking) is still a common path
even after subsetting the botnet breaches from the rest of the
data. Moreover, we are talking about confirmed data breaches
and it is important to keep in mind that attacks that we see on
the rise, such as ransomware and some financial pretexting,
do not require a breach of confidentiality for the attacker to
meet their goal. We will delve into those two areas in the next
two sections.
20112010 20132012 20152014 2016 2017
Actions in breaches
Figure 3. Percentage of breaches per threat action category over time
Overall findings
The industry sections will feature specific actions, actors,
asset and attribute data. Below are the overall “greatest
hits” for this year’s dataset. Longtime readers can think of
this as a quick study guide based on the 4As (Actor, Action,
Asset, Attribute).
DoS (hacking)
Loss (error)
Phishing (social)
Misdelivery (error)
Ransomware (malware)
C2 (malware)
Use of stolen credentials (hacking)
RAM scraper (malware)
Privilege abuse (misuse)
Use of backdoor or C2 (hacking)
Backdoor (malware)
Theft (physical)
Pretexting (social)
Skimmer (physical)
Data mishandling (misuse)
Spyware/Keylogger (malware)
Brute force (hacking)
Capture app data (malware)
Misconfiguration (error)
Publishing error (error)
Top 20 action varieties in incidents
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 4. Top 20 threat action varieties (incidents) (n=30,362)
Use of stolen credentials (hacking)
RAM scraper (malware)
Phishing (social)
Privilege abuse (misuse)
Misdelivery (error)
Top 20 action varieties in breaches
Use of backdoor or C2 (hacking)
Theft (physical)
C2 (malware)
Backdoor (malware)
Pretexting (social)
Skimmer (physical)
Brute force (hacking)
Spyware/keylogger (malware)
Misconfiguration (error)
Publishing error (error)
Data mishandling (misuse)
Capture app data (malware)
Export data (malware)
SQLi (hacking)
Password dumper (malware)
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 5. Top 20 threat action varieties (confirmed data breaches)
Organized crime
Former employee
Top external actor varieties in breaches
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
System admin
Doctor or nurse
Human resources
Top internal actor varieties in breaches
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 6. Top external actor varieties within confirmed data breaches
Figure 7. Top internal actor varieties within confirmed data breaches
Database (server)
POS terminal (user device)
POS controller (server)
Web app (server)
Desktop (user device)
Documents (media)
Mail (server)
Human resources (person)
Laptop (user device)
Gas pump terminal (terminal)
Top assets involved in breaches
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Top data varieties compromised
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 8. Top varieties of assets within confirmed data breaches
Figure 9. Top data varieties compromised (n=2,037)
Breach timeline
When breaches are successful, the time to compromise
continues to be very short. While we cannot determine how
much time is spent in intelligence gathering or other adversary
preparations, the time from first action in an event chain
to initial compromise of an asset is most often measured
in seconds or minutes. The discovery time is likelier to be
weeks or months. The discovery time is also very dependent
on the type of attack, with payment card compromises often
discovered based on the fraudulent use of the stolen data
(typically weeks or months) as opposed to a stolen laptop
which is discovered when the victim realizes they have
been burglarized.
Let’s get the obvious and infeasible goal of “Don’t get
compromised” out of the way. A focus on understanding
what data types are likely to be targeted and the application
of controls to make it dicult (even with an initial device
compromise) to access and exfiltrate is key. We do not have
a lot of data around time to exfiltration, but improvements in
that metric, combined with time to discovery can result in the
prevention of a high-impact confirmed data breach.
Seconds Minutes Hours Days Weeks Months Years
Breach timelines
Compromise, n=171
Exfiltration, n=56
Discovery, n=562
Containment, n=82
Figure 10. Time span of events
Social attacks: We’re only human
This section does not include incidents where
organizations’ customers were the phishing targets.
Phishing and pretexting represent 98% of social
incidents and 93% of breaches. Email continues to be
the most common vector (96%)
Frequency 1,450 incidents, 381 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Crimeware, Everything Else, and Cyber-
Espionage represent 93% of all security
Threat actors 99% External, 6% Internal,
<1%Partner (breaches)
Actor motives 59% Financial, 38% Espionage (breaches)
47% Personal, 26% Secrets, 22% Internal,
Defining moments
There are two main varieties of social attack that we are
going to focus on in this section, and they share a lot of
similarities. Phishing (1,192 incidents, 236 confirmed data
breaches) is the crafting of a message that is sent typically
via email and is designed to influence the recipient to “take
the bait” via a simple mouse click. That bait is most often a
malicious attachment but can also be a link to a page that will
request credentials or drop malware. Pretexting (170 incidents,
114 confirmed data breaches) is the creation of a false
narrative to obtain information or influence behavior.
There is a grey area here in that there is a level of pretext
to every phishing email and thus there is not always a clear
line to draw between the two. For the purposes of this study,
pretexting was reserved for social attacks that include a level
of dialogue or back and forth (and this certainly is the case
when the pretexting is over the phone), but also if a specific
persona was used by the attacker. In cases where executives
were impersonated, often using their legitimate email
accounts, it was marked as pretexting. The more “fire and
forget” approach was marked as phishing. It would be easier
to merely mark everything as phishing, it is the more common
term after all, but there are some dierences between the
attacks that are of interest. Note we don’t want to imply mutual
exclusivity either. We have incidents where an employee is
phished, leading to email account compromise, leading to
establishing a pretext against a second human target.
Vexed with pretext
One of the dierences between pretexting and phishing
events is the lack of reliance on malware installation in the
former for the attacker to meet their end goal. Malware was
found in less than 10% of incidents that featured pretexting
in contrast to phishing incidents where malware was present
over two-thirds of the time. So, pretexting is less about gaining
a foothold and more about acquiring information directly from
the actions taken by the target. The two scenarios that were
most prevalent in pretexting attacks were those targeting
employees who either worked in finance or human resources.
The finance employees were emailed by the threat actor
impersonating the CEO or other executive and influenced into
transferring money. Sometimes via wire transfer, sometimes by
being presented with phony invoices to handle. In some cases,
more up-front work had been done to compromise the email
account of the executive that was being impersonated (hence
the common term Business Email Compromise). In other
cases, the email address is spoofed or the email is sent with
a similar looking username and domain. The latter presents a
situation where a confidentiality loss does not necessarily have
to occur for a successful attack. These attacks are also very
lucrative, with numerous six-figure losses as part of the scam.
The incidents targeting human resources sta do have a
confidentiality loss associated with them. The data most
often coveted in these incidents is the W-2 information of
employees—loaded with salary and other personal information
that can be used to file fraudulent tax returns on their behalf
and directly depositing any refunds to the attackers’ account.
The persona used in these will be similar to the attacks
against the finance department, after all you wouldn’t just
send this information to anyone—would you? We have seen
financial pretexting rise from 61 incidents in the 2017 DBIR to
170 this year. While the pretexts associated with fraudulent
transactions have increased from last year, the big jump stems
from an 83 incident increase in attacks targeting HR sta.
I feel no curiosity
That is the mantra users should have when deciding on
whether they should click on the attachment referencing a
shipping notice for the item they don’t remember purchasing.
Alas, while pretexting may have been one of the movers and
shakers in this year’s dataset, phishing’s heyday has not
ended. It is still far and away the most common method of
social attack. Unlike pretexting, which is financially motivated
over 95% of the time, motives for phishing are split between
financial (59%) and espionage (41%). Phishing is often used
as the lead action of an attack and is followed by malware
installation and other actions that ultimately lead to exfiltration
of data. More on the sheer volume of email-borne malware
awaits you in the next section. With “only” 13% of breaches
featuring phishing, it may appear to be feeding from the
bottom this year. This is perhaps a good time to reiterate the
fact that banking Trojan botnets were removed from these
numbers. Furthermore, 70% of breaches associated with
nation-state or state-aliated actors involved phishing.
Get back on the train
For the sixth straight year we are able to report not only
on how phishing is represented in our incident and breach
dataset, but also provide some insight from four contributors
specializing in security awareness training via sanctioned
phishing campaigns. We will explore how susceptible
organizations are to phishing right after we present our data
on the top industries aected by data breaches featuring
social attacks, and the data varieties most frequently targeted.
Normally when we start talking phishing, it’s all doom and
gloom. But you know what? Most people never click phishing
emails. That’s right, when analyzing results from phishing
simulations the data showed that in the normal (median)
organization, 78% of people don’t click a single phish all year.
That’s pretty good news. Unfortunately, on average 4%2 of
people in any given phishing campaign will click it, and the
vampire only needs one person to let them in. See the “Feeling
vulnerable” appendix for a little bit about how dierent it looks
inside an organization versus the outside, but I’m sure you can
guess. The actor is best left outside the walls.
78% of people didn’t click a single phish all year.
2. This is actually an improvement. It was 11% in 2014
(Verizon 2015 DBIR, page 12).
Public (92)
Healthcare (62)
Education (61)
Professional (54)
Financial (52)
Manufacturing (31-33)
Other services (81)
Information (51)
Utilities (22)
Entertainment (71)
Top industries in social breaches
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 11. Top industries within Social breaches (n=351)
Virtual currency
Data varieties compromised in social
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 12. Data varieties compromised in Social breaches (n=362)
Part of your overall strategy to combat phishing could be that
you can try and find those 4% of people ahead of time and
plan for them to click. As Figure13 shows, the more phishing
emails someone has clicked, the more they are likely to click in
the future.
Click rate on future emails
Likelihood of clicking based on previous performance
Number of phishing emails previously clicked by user
50 10 15 20
Figure 13. Click rates of users based on historical performance in
phishing tests (n=2,771,850)
However, it may not be just the “4%” that need more training
or other controls (more on that later). Additional guidance
should also be bestowed on users that don’t report the
phishing! Only 17% of phishing campaigns were reported. And
as Figure14 shows, almost no campaigns are reported by the
majority of the people phished. Reducing the amount of time
to detect and ultimately respond to phishing attacks is another
key component in your defense.
3. It was 1 minute, 22 seconds back in 2014 (Verizon 2015 DBIR, page 13), and looking back maybe those were control subjects. If you are opening every email
within 2 minutes, how are you getting any real work done?
4. telegraph-o
So, if it does get reported, how long do you have to do
something about it? The test results came back and the
diagnosis was the time until the first click in most campaigns
is 16 minutes.3 Most people who are going to click a phishing
email do so in just over an hour. The first report from a
savvy user normally comes in around 28 minutes with half
of the reports done by 33 minutes. So you may not catch
the first click but you might be able to limit the number of
future clickers.
Things to consider
Clicks happen
Some people will click an attachment faster than Harry
Turner.4 Perhaps you send them a tablet and a keyboard or a
laptop running a sandboxed OS that only runs signed code.
Reduce the impact of a compromised user device by
segmenting clients from critical assets, and using strong
authentication (i.e., more than a keylogger is needed to
compromise) to access other security zones within your
network. If you use email in the cloud, require a second factor.
Talking about practice
Train the responders along with the end-user base. Test
your ability to detect a campaign, identify potential infected
hosts, determine device activity post-compromise, and
confirm existence of data exfiltration. Practice, practice,
practice to react quickly and eciently to limit the impact of a
successful phish.
Role-playing games
Provide role-specific training to users that are targeted based
on their privileges or access to data. Educate employees
with access to employee data such as W-2s or the ability to
transfer funds that they are likely targets. Increase their level
of skepticism—it isn’t paranoia if someone really is out to
get them.
Number of campaigns
Percent of people who reported the campaign
Most campaigns have few
or no people report them.
Few campaigns are
reported by most people.
25%0% 50% 75%
Reporting rates of phishing campaigns
Figure 14. Reporting rates of phishing campaigns (n=9,697)
Ransomware, botnets, and other malware insights
5. Not those so much, the new new ones.
If you are perusing this fine report and have not heard about
ransomware, let us be the first to say, “Congratulations on
being unfrozen from that glacier!” A lot has happened over the
last couple of years. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series,
a car was just shot into outer space for fun, and the new Star
Wars movies are really good.5 We won’t bring up politics as it
may be too much for you to handle as you assimilate back into
society—especially after we talk more about the scourge that
is ransomware.
Ransomware within malware incidents
Figure 15. Ransomware within malware incidents over time
Ransomware was first mentioned in the 2013 DBIR and we
referenced that these schemes could “blossom as an eective
tool of choice for online criminals”. And blossom they did! Now
we have seen this style of malware overtake all others to be
the most prevalent variety of malicious code for this year’s
dataset. Ransomware is an interesting phenomenon that, when
viewed through the mind of an attacker, makes perfect sense.
Ransomware can be:
Used in completely opportunistic attacks aecting
individuals’ home computers as well as targeted strikes
against organizations
Attempted with little risk or cost to the adversary involved
Successful with no reliance on having to monetize
stolen data
Deployed across numerous devices in organizations to
inflict bigger impacts and thus command bigger ransoms
Asset categories within Ransomware incidents
User device
Network Embedded
Figure 16. Asset categories within Ransomware incidents over time
Figure16 provides some clues on the larger impacts that
ransomware is having. Focusing on the increase in server
assets that were aected over time we see that infections
aren’t limited to the first desktop that is infected. Lateral
movement and other post-compromise activities often reel in
other systems that are available for infection and obscuration.
Encrypting a file server or database is more damaging than a
single user device.
Those evil-natured botnets
As stated in the introduction, this year we again received a
large number of botnet infections. The last two years we left
Dridex-related breaches in the dataset. This year, while Dridex
isn’t a big thing anymore, other botnets still are (to the tune of
over 43,000 breaches involving use of customer credentials
stolen from botnet infected clients). We have pulled these
breaches out to look at separately so that it doesn’t
overshadow other findings. Lest you be fooled, this is a global
problem with victims on every populated continent as you can
see in Figure17.6
Botnets can aect you in two dierent ways. The first way, you
never even see the bot. Instead, your users download the bot,
it steals their credentials, and then uses them to log in to your
systems. The aforementioned bounty of data provided through
botnet takedowns represents this case. This attack primarily
targeted banking organizations (91%) though Information (5%)
and Professional Services organizations (2%) were victims
as well.
6. Note: We didn’t normalize this by population. We’re trying to impress the global nature of the victims, not pit countries against each other.
The second way organizations are aected involves
compromised hosts within your network acting as foot soldiers
in a botnet. Figure 18 sheds some light on organizations’
response to this event. It displays 12 unique botnets chosen
at random from a rather large dataset. The data shows that
most organizations clear most bots in the first month (give or
take a couple of days). However, there’s a bump for several
botnets way on the right side calling out organizations that are
struggling to clear the infection.
So, if you’re the kind of organization where your users are
targeted, add a second factor to their authentication. And
whether or not the first scenario applies to you; if you’ve got
computers, the second definitely will. Have an operational
ability to find and remove botnet malware so that you’re on the
left side of Figure 18, not the right.
1–69 70–378 379–13,316 13,317+
No data
Geographic spread of botnet breaches
Figure 17. Botnet breaches by country (n=43,112)
0 100 200
Days taken to contain botnets
Figure 18. Days to botnet containment
Number of organizations
100 200 300
Days receiving malware per organization
Most organizations receive
malware on six or fewer
days per year
Fewer than 1.8% of
organizations receive malware
every other day or more
Figure 19. Days receiving malware per organization (n=128,131)
Fighting the good fight
We are again fortunate to have the ability to analyze data
on malware detections from several security vendors. This
section is supported by the data contributed from those
sources. Given the news about botnets and ransomware and
botnets of ransomware, it certainly feels like being on the
Poseidon and looking out at the waves. The good news is
that every day is not the 50-year storm at Bells Beach. We
analyzed 444 million malware detections across approximately
130,000 organizations and the median organization received
22 or less pieces of malware per year.
Looking at malware detections over the last quarter of the
year, 37% of IP addresses that saw a piece of malware never
saw another.
7. And this is from companies that saw at least one piece of malware. Companies that saw no malware throughout the year wouldn’t even show up in the
malware data.
8. Notice the horizontal axis goes up exponentially. If it went up evenly it’d stretch out into the next building over.
9. And that’s being EXTREMELY conservative with the data. It’s rather likely you won’t see a MUCH higher percentage ever again.
Number of organizations
Malware detections
10 1,000
Peak of daily malware detections
Median malware
on worst day: 7
Figure 20. Highest daily number of malware detections per
organization (n=128,131)
In fact, most companies receive malware on six or fewer days
a year7 as can be seen in Figure19. Now, we admit that’s
the good days. What about the bad days when the malware
monster raises its gnarly head? Figure20 shows even the bad
days aren’t so bad with most organizations getting seven or
less malware detections on their worst day of the year. Word
of warning—this is the median organization. Therefore, half the
organizations have more and this figure is thick tailed, so some
organizations are hit with hundreds of thousands or more.8
So, what about the malware you do see? At least 37% of
malware hashes appear once, never to be seen again9 not
unlike praise from your boss. The vectors recorded in this
dataset support what we are seeing in the incident and breach
data—most of it will come by email, followed by web browsers
as evidenced by Figure21.
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
Frequency of malware vectors
Trac type
Figure 21. Frequency of malware vectors within detected malware
js 37.2%
MS Oce
0% 10% 20% 30% 40%
Frequency of malware file types
File type
Figure 22. Frequency of malware file types within detected malware
10. And many of the PDFs were just a vehicle for a macro-enabled Oce document, embedded within.
11. Even a basic XOR gate would potentially hide an executable from automatic detection.
12. We saw a significant amount of malware disabling proxy settings.
Choosing the form of the destructor
The next question is, what form will the malware take?
Figure22 lays out the percentage breakdown pretty clearly
but let’s take it to the next level. JavaScript (.js), Visual Basic
Script (.vbs), MS Oce and PDF10 tend to be the file types
found in first-stage malware. They’re what sneaks in the door.
They then drop the second-stage malware. In this case, it’s
predominantly Windows executables. Note, once the first-
stage malware is in the door, they can invite their second-
stage friends in any way they want. They can be dressed up
as something else.11 They can invite them in via another route.12
Once the first unwelcome guest is in, it’s much harder to catch
the rest before they execute and wreck the place.
Malware—it won’t always look the same, like your brother
when he uses the combover, it can and will attempt to change
its appearance. Therefore, you can’t rely solely on what you or
others have seen in the past as a sure means to recognize it
again in the future. But it does follow some well-trodden paths
and often presents itself in common forms, so you can at least
have an idea of what to look for.
Denial of Service: Storm preparations
13. Network, ISP, CDN, Endpoint, etc. See the DDoS section from the Verizon 2017 DBIR for details.
For several years running we have received a
veritable cornucopia of Distributed Denial of Service
(DDoS) incident data. We added 21,409 to our dataset
this year alone, but we will not dwell too much on
that number.
These hatches are not going to batten themselves
We do not get fixated on incident count because it is dicult
to identify distinct and separate attacks as opposed to one
attacker that may be starting and stopping and restarting. On
the flip side, an organization can be under several dierent
attacks simultaneously. Finally, DDoSs can be identified by
multiple entities (and thus mitigated at multiple places).13 The
focus should be less on the number of incidents and more on
realizing that the degree of certainty that they will occur is
almost in the same class as death and taxes.
You know you’ve heard it. So have we. “DDoSs are used
to cover up real breaches.” Not unlike, “the government
is covering up evidence of alien visitation”, it is often
heard but not so easy to prove. This year’s dataset only
had one breach that involved a DoS, and in that one, the
breach was a compromised asset used to help launch a
DDoS, not the other way around. In fact, we’ve never had
a year with more than single-digit breaches in the Denial
of Service pattern. Like the aliens, they may be out there,
but we aren’t seeing them.
Length of DDoS
Peak DDoS packets per second
Duration and intensity of DDos attacks
If most attacks
were big and long,
they’d be here
Figure 23. DDoS durations and bandwidth (n=842,590)
While the prevalence of attacks is important to acknowledge,
the data shows that these attacks on average, are more like
a thunderstorm than a Category 5 hurricane. Figure23 shows
you that while it is important to prepare for major storms, they
are not battering our shores with regularity. You will find that
most of the attacks are measured in minutes, noting the axes
since the lines aren’t evenly spaced. As far as attack strength,
the median size of a DDoS has been getting smaller as time
has gone on. Figure24 illustrates the slow reduction in median
DDoS size. This year it fell below a gigabit per second.
100 1K 10K 100K 1M 10M 100M
1K 10K 100K 1M 10M 100M 1B 10B 100B
DDoS attack bandwidth and packet count levels
14. CLDAP, CharGEN, DNS, memecached, NetBIOS, NTP, RIP, RPC, SNMP, SSDP, ECHO, etc.
Figure 24. DDoS attack bandwidth and packet count levels
Most days the sun will shine on your backdoor
Most companies that do suer a DDoS normally aren’t under
attack that long each year—the median is three days. Some
organizations have to contend with more days under some
level of attack, but the good news is that the majority of the
organizations in our data are not close to realizing consistent
waves of attack.
Amped up
In Figure 25, we see amplification attacks dominating by
2017. Amplification attacks take advantage of the ability to
send small spoofed packets to services that, as part of their
normal operation, will in turn reply back to the victim with a
much larger response. It is similar to asking a friend “How are
you?” and then receiving a twenty-minute response about the
price of gas, how much they love CrossFitTM, their cat’s hairball
problem, etc.
Amplification attacks are reliant on people leaving services14
open and with vulnerable configurations to the internet. Don’t
be that person.
Not amplified
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Percent of DDoS attacks
Realtive prevalence of amplified DDoS attacks
Figure 25. Amplification DDoS attacks over time (n=3,272) Things to consider
Don’t roll the dice
While we are not seeing the biggest and baddest attacks on
a daily basis, ensure that you have retained DDoS mitigation
services commensurate to your tolerance to availability loss.
Verify that you have covered all of your bases from a scoping
Things can really get rough when you go it alone
In addition to the above, find out from your ISP(s) what
defenses are already built-in as there may be pre-existing
relief in the form of rate throttling amplifiable services when
anomalous volumes of trac are detected. While this will not
stop powerful attacks, it may help with smaller spikes in trac.
Avoid tunnel vision
Understand that availability issues can occur without a DDoS
attack. Identify and patch server vulnerabilities with availability
impacts. Perform capacity planning testing to handle
spikes in legitimate trac. Build in redundancy and conduct
failover testing.
Incident Classification Patterns
Since the 2014 report, a series of nine patterns have
been used to categorize security incidents and data
breaches that share similar characteristics. This was
done in an eort to communicate that the majority
of incidents/breaches, even targeted, sophisticated
attacks, generally share enough commonalities to
categorize them, and study how often each pattern is
found in a particular industries’ dataset.
When we first identified the patterns, five years ago, we
reported that 92% of the incidents in our corpus going back
10 years could be categorized into one of the nine patterns.
Hank Williams, Jr., is not the only one who finds old habits hard
to break apparently. It appears to be the case for threat actors
too, especially if tried-and-true methods continue to yield
results. Fast-forwarding to today with over 333,000 incidents
and over 16,000 data breaches, the numbers reveal that 94%
of security incidents and 90% of data breaches continue to
find a home within one of the original nine patterns.
Denial of Service
Privilege Misuse
Web Applications
Lost and Stolen Assets
Miscellaneous Errors
Everything Else
Point of Sale
Payment Card Skimmers
Incidents per pattern
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Web Applications
Miscellaneous Errors
Point of Sale
Everything Else
Privilege Misuse
Lost and Stolen Assets
Payment Card Skimmers
Denial of Service
Breaches per pattern
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 26. Percentage and count of incidents per pattern (n=53,308) Figure 27. Percentage and count of breaches per pattern (n=2,216)
Classification struggle
We have seen some variance in the overall representation
of particular patterns over the years. Often the increase
or decrease is a product of changes in our pool of data
contributors, or a spike due to an influx of information (our
inclusion of data associated with botnet takedowns in
2016 and 2017 is a prime example). It is highly recommended
that readers focus more on how these patterns are broken
out in your own particular industry rather than on the entire
dataset. The “Mind your own industry” section will showcase
how often industries are impacted by these patterns. The
threat actions or tactics within each pattern do not feature
enough noteworthy changes from last year to merit devoting
an entire section per pattern in this year’s report. Instead, we
will define each of the patterns below and focus on them more
within each industry section.
This year we want to put the data to work for the
information security community beyond what we can
do in a written report or a limited number of pages. This
portal provides interactive detail to the DBIR based
on the exact same data and processes as the written
report. So head over, dig in, and get to know the DBIR
data a bit better!
And now for something completely dierent
We don’t expect much change in the patterns, because ...
well, they are patterns. It is interesting to take a look into the
breaches that eschewed labels and joined other free spirits in
the Everything Else bucket.
While often it is a lack of detail as opposed to unique tactics
that will land a particular breach in this category, we were able
to pull out some attacks to talk about (again) here. Financially
motivated pretexting (32%) and phishing (15%) can be found
in this pattern. We covered these in depth in the “Social
attacks” section, so we won’t repeat it here. The prevalence
of financially motivated social attacks that are not a means
to install crimeware will likely lead to discussions on pattern
expansion in the future.
All instances involving malware that did not fit into a more
specific pattern. The majority of incidents that comprise
this pattern are opportunistic in nature and are financially
Notable findings
Within the 1,379 incidents where a specific malware
functionality was recorded, ransomware (56%) is still the top
variety of malware found. Command and control (36%) is next.
Incidents in this pattern include unauthorized network
or system access linked to state-aliated actors and/or
exhibiting the motive of espionage.
Notable findings
Threat actors attributed to state-aliated groups or nation-
states combine to make up 93% of breaches, with former
employees, competitors, and organized criminal groups
representing the rest. Phishing campaigns leading to
installation and use of C2 and backdoor malware are still
a common event chain found within this pattern. Breaches
involving internal actors are categorized in the Insider and
Privilege Misuse pattern.
Denial of Service
Any attack intended to compromise the availability of networks
and systems. Includes both network and application attacks
designed to overwhelm systems, resulting in performance
degradation or interruption of service.
Notable findings
This pattern is based on the specific hacking action variety of
DoS. In addition to the industry sections, more information can
be found in the “Denial of Service” section.
Insider and Privilege Misuse
All incidents tagged with the action category of Misuse—any
unapproved or malicious use of organizational resources—fall
within this pattern.
Notable findings
This is mainly insider-only misuse, but outsiders (due to
collusion) and partners (because they are granted privileges)
show up as well.
Miscellaneous Errors
Incidents in which unintentional actions directly compromised
an attribute of a security asset.
Notable findings
Over half of the breaches in this pattern were attributable to
misdelivery of information—the sending of data to the wrong
recipient. Misconfigurations, notably unsecured databases, as
well as publishing errors were also prevalent.
Payment Card Skimmers
All incidents in which a skimming device was physically
implanted (tampering) on an asset that reads magnetic stripe
data from a payment card.
Notable findings
While commonly associated with ATMs, gas pump terminals
were just as likely to be targeted in this year’s dataset.
Point of Sale Intrusions
Remote attacks against the environments where card-present
retail transactions are conducted. POS terminals and POS
controllers are the targeted assets. Physical tampering of PIN
entry device (PED) pads or swapping out devices is covered
by Payment Card Skimmers.
Notable findings
The Accommodation and Food Services industry is again the
hardest hit by this pattern; POS breaches were over 40 times
more likely to match NAICS 72 than the average industry.
Physical Theft and Loss
Any incident where an information asset went missing,
whether through misplacement or malice.
Notable findings
The top two assets found in Physical Theft and Loss breaches
are paper documents and laptops. When recorded, the most
common location of theft was at the victim’s work area, or
from employee-owned vehicles.
Web Application Attacks
Any incident in which a web application was the vector of
attack. This includes exploits of code-level vulnerabilities in the
application as well as thwarting authentication mechanisms.
Notable findings
The number of breaches in this pattern are reduced due to
the filtering of botnet-related attacks on web applications
using credentials stolen from customer-owned devices. Use of
stolen credentials is still the top variety of hacking in breaches
involving web applications, followed by SQLi.
Going mobile
In the 2013 DBIR, we stated: “With respect to mobile
devices, obviously mobile malware is a legitimate
concern. Nevertheless, data breaches involving mobile
devices in the breach event chain are still uncommon
in the types of cases Verizon and our DBIR partners
investigate.” That statement remains accurate today.
But we’re not recommending that mobile device security
should be ignored. Since mobile malware does exist,
and mobile devices are used for enterprise data access
and communication, we wanted to know more about the
malware functionalities, installation vectors and other
useful factoids that might shed some light in this area.
We have been provided with some illumination this year
from Lookout Mobile Security, based on their analysis of
Android and iOS apps. In its research, Lookout identified
five top types of malware:
Adware: Displays advertisements over the top of
other applications
Chargeware: Applications that charge users for
services without proper notification
Riskware: Applications with code and libraries that
reduce the overall security posture of a device
Spyware or Surveillanceware: Silently gathers
sensitive information for a third party
Trojans: Applications that masquerade as
legitimate ones
While some of the categories above could be
brushed o as “nuisanceware” or simply a consumer
issue, applications with capabilities of capturing and
exfiltrating data do exist and organizations need to
be mindful of the potential impact of a compromised
corporate mobile device. As mobile devices often
provide privileged access to the enterprise environment
and hold two-factor authentication credentials, these
classes of malware and device-based attacks can
result in more damage than adware or click fraud. The
potential for these infections does exist, and a common
vector is the use of phishing/SMiShing and other
social attacks that entice the mobile user to download
applications outside of ocial platform marketplaces.
There is evidence that some actors are expanding from
traditional user devices and beginning to target mobile.
Take the Dark Caracal group, which was found to have
stolen hundreds of thousands of text messages, photos,
call recordings, documents and sensitive personal data
mostly from mobile devices. While this is merely one
example, we will continue to research this space to
determine if more criminal elements adopt a mobile-
specific attack strategy. After all, mobile technology
is here to stay and in the cybercriminal community,
“imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Mind your own industry
We believe that one of the best uses of the DBIR is to look
at the data from the perspective of specific industries.
The breakout of incidents and breaches by industry and
size provides a wealth of information, but mostly about the
population of this year’s dataset. A particular industry’s
representation below cannot be used as a security gauge—
more does not necessarily correlate to less secure. The totals
below are influenced by our sources, by industry or data-
specific disclosure laws, or just by how much someone would
want to DoS you.
Incidents Breaches
Large Small Unknown Total Large Small Unknown Total
Accommodation (72) 40 296 32 368 31 292 15 338
Administrative (56) 7 15 11 33 5 12 1 18
Agriculture (11) 1 0 4 5 0 0 0 0
Construction (23) 2 11 10 23 0 5 5 10
Education (61) 42 26 224 292 30 15 56 101
Entertainment (71) 6 19 7,163 7,188 5 17 11 33
Financial (52) 74 74 450 598 39 52 55 146
Healthcare (62) 165 152 433 750 99 112 325 536
Information (51) 54 76 910 1,040 29 50 30 109
Management (55) 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0
Manufacturing (31–33) 375 21 140 536 28 15 28 71
Mining (21) 3 3 20 26 3 3 0 6
Other Services (81) 5 11 46 62 2 7 26 35
Professional (54) 158 59 323 540 24 39 69 132
Public (92) 22,429 51 308 22,788 111 31 162 304
Real Estate (53) 2 5 24 31 2 4 14 20
Retail (44–45) 56 111 150 317 38 86 45 169
Trade (42) 13 5 13 31 6 4 2 12
Transportation (48–49) 15 9 35 59 7 6 5 18
Utilities (22) 14 8 24 46 4 3 11 18
Unknown 1,043 9 17,521 18,573 82 3 55 140
Total 24,505 961 27,842 53,308 545 756 915 2,216
Table 1. Security incidents and breaches by victim industry and organization size
What is more beneficial than getting lost in the numbers is to
look at how dierent the breakouts of actors, motives, tactics,
and attack patterns look across industries. Some industries
handle significant amounts of payment card data, some
have databases full to the brim with personally identifiable
information (PII), some protect classified information and some
are lucky enough to do all of the above. There are attack types
that we must be aware of regardless of industry, but other
tactics may be as scarce as dissenters in a North Korean
cabinet meeting in one industry, but as ubiquitous as selfie
sticks at the Trevi Fountain in another.
Figure28 below oers a quick way to find dierences (and
similarities) among select industries. We will again cover each
of the industries that give us enough data this year to have a
seat at the table and call out their highlight reel. There is a lot
to take in in the Figure below, but it eectively maps out the
most prevalent incident patterns, threat actions, and aected
assets per industry. Focus on the heavily shaded cells in your
industry, pick a pattern and compare your industry’s percent
(or count) to everyone else—the world is your oyster. Flip over
to your industry-specific section for more pearls of wisdom.
307 14 24 27 8 24 25 90 45
11 41 24 55 15 18 28 97 6
21 19 49 154 57 284 248 5,988 26
14 46 63 105 69 314 257 171 10
Hacking 324 210 400 139 880 150 201 925 176
Malware 326 35 70 185 70 359 296 6,1 21 71
Physical 10 11 64 87 3 16 12 23 89
Misuse 7 7 21 138 5 22 28 10,311 11
Denial of Service 2151 336 1580 74 104 703 85
Payment Card Skimmers 6 49 5 1 1 81
Privilege Misuse 1 12 9 24 482 41 120
Cyber-Espionage 7 7 21 138 5 22 28 10,311 11
Point of Sale 306 2 1 2 1 11
Miscellaneous Errors 2 16 22 181 34 3 30 1,774 11
Lost and Stolen Assets 4 10 16 96 3 15 17 3,728 7
Web Applications 11 29 36 88 277 17 34 97 73
Everything Else 13 48 59 63 81 39 41 68 12
User Dev
15 45 62 104 69 314 258 172 9
338 210 41 9 299 920 127 202 885 189
306 28 42 115 30 336 290 3,851 22
5 6 25 193 2 11 12 827 16
1 1 3
1 8 3 4 2 2 1 1
6 50 6 1 2 1 82
302 2 1 2 1 10
316 46 50 121 62 47 66 159 77
10 41 25 56 15 18 28 96 7
Error 2 17 26 203 36 5 35 5,482 12 1 16 21 188 28 2 27 55 10
6 8 49 68 2 8 15 67
5 3 11 128 2 8 17 51 8
11 36 19 54 28 17 30 52 8
10 26 29 81 45 15 28 49 64
2 7 10 73 2 8 17 5
1 15 20 172 27 2 27 50 9
5 2 8 14 3 8 9 9 4
5 3 11 128 2 8 17 51 8
1 12 8 9 2 22 14 77
4 40 5 1 61
322 42 64 245 86 42 76 105 89
302 20 19 52 4 16 29 98 13
3 5 16 183 2 1 7 36 12
1 1 1
4 38 5 1 62
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
Figure 28. Industry comparison (left: all security incidents, right: only confirmed data breaches)
and Food Services
This vertical continues to be dominated by
opportunistic and financially motivated POS
breaches. The main threat actions continue to be
hacking and malware.
Frequency 368 incidents, 338 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Point of Sale Intrusions, Everything Else
and Web Application Attacks patterns
represent 96% of all data breaches within
Accommodation and Food Services
Threat actors External (99%), Internal (1%)
Actor motives Financial (99%), All other motives (<1%)
93% Payment, 5% Personal and 2%
Get away from it all
There are an endless number of travel-related commercials
that urge you to fly away, stay at an exotic locale, and sample
unfamiliar native cuisine. They promise escape, novelty,
excitement and change. The breach-related findings for those
hotels and restaurants, however, do not. Although we collected
one-third more breaches and incidents since last year, the
data still illustrates yet more of the same financially motivated
POS breaches that we have seen dominate this vertical in past
years. In fact, the Point of Sale pattern accounts for 90% of all
breaches within this industry vertical. To further underline this
issue, breaches in NAICS code 72 are over 100 times more
likely to have an asset variety of POS controller than other
verticals represented in our dataset. As stated in previous
reports, often restaurants are smaller organizations without
the luxury of trained security sta, but they are forced to rely
almost exclusively on payment cards for their existence, so
this finding is not unexpected but is certainly unfortunate.
These attacks are overwhelmingly motivated by financial gain
and perpetrated by organized crime.
The other 10% of breaches are scattered across multiple
patterns with Everything Else and Web Application Attacks
coming in at around 3% each. That ratio of those two patterns
in relation to the first is roughly the same as the well-known
“friends who are busy that day vs. friends who will help you
move” rule.
Figure 29. Threat actions within Accommodation and Food Services
breaches over time
Action types
With regard to the most common action types we see
in Accommodation and Food Services, the ever-present
combination of hacking and malware continues to be the
proverbial “burger and fries” of the industry, stolen credentials
(81%), which are often taken en masse from a POS service
provider breach and then used to compromise the POS
systems of the service provider’s customers, and brute force
(18%) are the most common varieties of hacking. 96% of
malware-related breaches utilize RAM scrapers to capture
volatile POS transactional data. After RAM scrapers there is
a huge drop o in frequency until we see functionalities such
as C2, keyloggers and password dumpers all showing up in
approximately 5% of cases or less. However, it is important to
remember that most RAM-scraping malware does have other
functionalities (such as C2, keylogging, and exporting data)
but we typically were not provided with the identity of the
POS malware family. Without the name of the family, we only
know what actions were explicitly recorded, not the additional
functionalities the malware may harbor so this finding is
therefore more likely indicative of a classification issue than a
drastic change.
What time is checkout?
Don’t expect a mint on your pillow or a nightly oer of a
“turndown service” from hackers to alert you to their presence.
Breaches aren’t discovered for months in 96% of cases. When
they are discovered it is typically via external sources such
as detection as a Common Point of Purchase (CPP) or by law
Things to consider
Useless as the G in lasagna
The use of default or easily guessable passwords is as en
vogue as tight rolling your jeans. Stop it—in fact passwords
regardless of length or complexity are not sucient on their
own. No matter who administers your POS environment
(whether in-house or outsourced) they should be required to
use two-factor authentication.
Random acts of scraping
As evidenced by the great number of “integrity” issues in our
caseload, illicit software installation continues to be rampant.
Although we cannot provide actual numbers or percentages,
many breaches continue to involve assets without basic
antivirus protection installed.
Looking for danger signs
Still waiting … for a good reason that your POS server should
be visible from the internet. It’s OK, we have time. Many victims
could easily become an above-the-median hanging fruit by
simply filtering what external IP addresses can reach the
remote access mechanism of their POS controller.
This section will focus on data breaches, but it is
worthy of mention that Denial of Service attacks
remain extremely common in Education, and Cyber-
Espionage is still a significant pattern.
Frequency 292 incidents, 101 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Everything Else, Web Application Attacks
and Miscellaneous Errors represent 76%
of breaches
Threat actors External (81%), Internal (19%), Partner (2%),
Multiple parties (2%) (breaches)
Actor motives Financial (70%), Espionage (20%), Fun (11%)
72% Personal, 14% Secrets and 11% Medical
Education can be a taxing experience
The Everything Else pattern took the number one place in
Education this year, accounting for 36% of breaches. This
pattern is often the cyber equivalent of a “lost and found”
bin for various types of incidents we encounter that do not
provide enough granularity or detail for us to place in one of
the other patterns. In this case, however, it is largely the result
of a social engineering scenario that has become increasingly
common: the W-2 scam. But we discussed that at some length
in the “Social attacks” section earlier in the report, so suce
it to say that there were 22 instances of it in the Education
vertical this year. It is not immediately clear why this scenario
has figured so prominently in Education, but it may be due to
the more “open source” nature of schools and universities.
Typically, there is more transparency in educational institutions
regarding the disclosure of data such as the names, job
roles and contact information of employees than exist in
other verticals and this no doubt aids the attacker in those
Payment Card
2011 20122010
2015 20162013 2014
Everything Else
Lost/Stolen Assets
Point of Sale
Privilege Misuse
Web Applications
Figure 30. Incident classification patterns within Education breaches
over time
“You get a line, I’ll get a pole”
But while we are talking about social attacks, the second
most common action type in Education incidents is Social
(present in 16% of incidents and 41% of breaches). This finding
relates back to another important pattern in Education, that of
Cyber-Espionage. Last year Cyber-Espionage (which typically
has a strong social component—usually phishing) was one of
the top patterns present in Education breaches (25%), and
although it falls to 12% of all breaches this year it is clear that
state-aliated actors are still hard at work in this vertical. So,
whether they are interested in highly sensitive research, the
technical specs for collaborative projects with major industry
or simply the details of safe-space allocation, it is clear that
the bad guys still want to know what our educational entities
are up to.
Extra credit assignment
Hacking is the dominant action type in Education (72%) from
an incidents perspective, which is largely due to the continuing
prevalence of DoS attacks in this vertical. If we focus on
breaches only, however, the percentage of hacking drops to
44%. If your favorite number is 4415, you will be happy to know
that the use of backdoor or C2 and use of stolen credentials
were present 44% of the time in the aforementioned 44%.
Education has a somewhat higher percentage of insider
problems than many, but not all (looking at you, Healthcare)
industries. Employees make mistakes, and this industry is not
immune, with 16% of breaches featuring a causal error.
15. We’re partial to 42.
Things to consider
Keep school in session
If you are in this vertical you can expect to be the target of
DoS attacks. This is becoming even more of a priority with
online classes becoming more commonplace. Make sure you
have adequate DoS protection against these attacks and an
appropriate mitigation plan in place for when they do occur.
Start studying your provider agreements now so that you
won’t have to cram at the last moment to be knowledgeable
regarding their contents.
Education is not just for students
Both phishing attacks and miscellaneous errors begin with
your sta. Make sure that you conduct regular security training
to lessen the eectiveness the former and have routine
security audits to protect against the latter.
Don’t use last year’s text book
Web application attacks continue to be a problem for
Education. Making sure that you are using the current version
of the software will often keep you from a failing grade.
Financial and
17. Only slightly more elegant than this:
18. Achievement Unlocked: Proactively handle any “What about ATM jackpotting?” questions
Banking Trojan botnets and Denial of Service are
by far the most common attacks. ATMs are still a
targeted asset.
Frequency 598 incidents, 146 with confirmed data
Top patterns Denial of Service, Everything Else, Crimeware
and Payment Card Skimmers represent 82%
of all security incidents
Threat actors 92% External, 7% Internal, 1% Partner
Actor motives 93% Financial, 5% Espionage
36% Personal, 34% Payment, 13% Bank
We will begin with the acknowledgement that attacks on web
application authentication mechanisms driven by banking
Trojan botnets happen—a lot. Had we included the almost
40,000 of them as part of the analysis, nothing else would
come to light. And while important, these attacks are not the
only cause for concern for the industry.
Denial of Service attacks are again the top pattern within
Financial and Insurance. Even though these current incidents
are not as high profile as the attacks of yesteryear16, they are
not extinct. So, while you are strengthening authentication into
your applications, ensure that you have controls and response
plans in place for availability attacks as well.
Payment card skimmers are still being installed on ATMs by
organized criminal groups. While there are various levels of
sophistication in the construction of card readers to make
them less noticeable, there are few year-to-year changes
to report on. ATM jackpotting is another attack that targets
ATMs and is receiving a fair amount of press. This is another
form of tampering in which physical access results in software
and/or hardware installation to cause the ATM to spit out
money.17 While this eliminates the need to clone debit cards,
the tampering is more intrusive than overlays. These attacks
have only recently been conducted in the US and any that
have made the news are not in this year’s dataset.18
As we did last year, in an eort to highlight incidents that did
not involve DoS, botnets, or ATM skimmers we filtered and
then looked at the pattern breakdown:
Everything Else
Web Applications
Miscellaneous Errors
Privilege Misuse
Lost and Stolen Assets
Point of Sale
Select patterns within Financial
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 31. Incident classification patterns within select Financial and
Insurance industry incidents (n=213)
The strong showing for Everything Else was interesting
enough to lead to an instant replay (looking deeper into the
data). Upon further review it was discovered that over half
of these incidents were instances of phishing, but without
conclusive evidence on either the motives or the next actions
that would be necessary to categorize them.
Ransomware was the top malware functionality and behind
the majority of the incidents falling into the Crimeware bucket.
We discussed ransomware in depth in the “Ransomware,
botnets, and other malware insights” section. In lieu of
repetition, there are two non-findings that are interesting. First,
banking information (13%) trails both PII (36%) and payment
card information (34%) as the most frequent data variety
compromised.19 This segues into the other absence—in prior
years the “evil bank employee” scenario was more at the
forefront with bank tellers conducting fraudulent transactions,
or sometimes colluding with outside criminal groups. Hopefully
this is a testament to both the fraud detection capabilities of
this industry (it is one of the top breach discovery methods)
and the resulting deterrence it has on the rank and file.
19. Again, this is after removing breaches where stolen customer credentials were used to access account information via banking applications.
Things to consider
Keep it up
The banking industry has seen a steady stream of DoS attacks
over the last few years. It is unlikely that will change anytime
soon, so be sure you have adequate protection against this
very common problem.
Ramp them up
The high showing for Everything Else is largely due to social
attacks in the form of phishing. Make sure employees know
what to look for with regard to this kind of attack, and give
them a quick and easy way to report it.
Back it up
Ensure that you have routine backups to fall back on in the
not unlikely case of a ransomware attack. Segregate assets
that are more critical to protect them and prioritize them with
regard to business continuity.
20. But not the “Methodology” appendix as that is how we try to assure you this isn’t flu!
The Healthcare vertical is rife with Error and Misuse.
In fact, it is the only industry vertical that has more
internal actors behind breaches than external. In
addition to these problem areas, ransomware is
endemic in the industry.
Frequency 750 incidents, 536 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Miscellaneous Errors, Crimeware and Privilege
Misuse represent 63% of incidents within
Threat actors 43% External, 56% Internal, 4% Partner and
2%Multiple parties (breaches)
Actor motives 75% Financial, 13% Fun, 5% Convenience, 5%
Espionage (all incidents)
Medical (79%), Personal (37%), Payment (4%)
Not easy like Sunday morning
If we were to assess the overall wellness of the Healthcare
vertical with regard to security, the prognosis would not be
terrifying, but neither would it be encouraging. Something
along the lines of “greatly improve your diet, stop smoking and
increase your workout routine or else” would cover it. Before
we judge them too harshly, however, we must keep in mind a
few important facts about the Healthcare vertical:
They deal with a vast amount of highly sensitive data that
they must retain and protect
That data must be kept current and accurate and must
be accessible in a very timely manner for the healthcare
professionals who need it (as life or death decisions might
be based on it)
It is subject to a much higher standard of scrutiny with
regard to privacy and disclosure requirements than are
most other verticals, due to regulations such as the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and
the Health Information Technology for Economic and
Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
Et tu, Brute?
As Caesar found out the hard way, often those who do you
the most harm can be those closest to you. The Healthcare
industry has the dubious distinction of being the only vertical
that has a greater insider threat (when looking at breaches)
than it does an external threat. This somewhat bleak finding
is linked closely to the fact that there is a large amount of
both errors and employee misuse in this vertical. With regard
to incidents Healthcare is almost seven times more likely to
feature a causal error than other verticals in our dataset, but
you might not want to ponder that when you go in to get that
appendix20 removed.
Errors most often appear in the form of misdelivery (62%)—
which is the sending of something intended for one person
to a dierent recipient—and is followed by a grouping of
misplacing assets, misconfigurations, publishing errors and
disposal errors.
Misuse, on the other hand, takes the form of privilege abuse
(using logical access to assets, often databases, without
having a legitimate medical or business need to do so) in 74%
of cases. Interestingly, the motive (when known) is most often
(47%) that of “fun or curiosity.” Examples of this are when an
employee sees that their date from last weekend just came in
for a checkup, or a celebrity visits the hospital and curiosity
gets the better of common sense. Not to be forgotten, our
faithful friend avarice is still alive and well, with financial gain
being the motivation in 40% of internal misuse breaches.
Actions within Healthcare
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 32. Threat action categories within Healthcare incidents
Ransomware is everywhere
No doubt over Thanksgiving dinner you and your family fell
in to conversation about the possible reasons for the rise
of the Crimeware pattern to the number two position in the
Healthcare vertical. Of course, you did. It’s only natural. It is
due to the ransomware epidemic that continues to plague
the Healthcare industry. Ransomware accounts for 85% of
all malware in Healthcare. Due to Department of Health and
Human Services regulations, ransomware outbreaks are
treated as breaches (rather than data at risk) for reporting
purposes. Consequently, it is dicult to know if Healthcare
is more susceptible to ransomware than are organizations in
other industries, or if the high percentages of it being recorded
are simply a product of more stringent reporting requirements.
Regardless of the reason, the wise security practitioner will
take immediate steps to combat this ubiquitous attack type.
Due to the ease of the attack, the low risk for the criminal,
and the potential for high monetary yields, it is likely here for a
lengthy stay in spite of the quality of the hospital food.
Please do not feed the phish
Social attacks (mostly phishing and pretexting) appear in
approximately 14% of incidents in Healthcare and are a
definite matter for concern. Phishing (70% of social attacks)
occurs when an attacker sends a communication—usually an
email—to an individual attempting to influence them to open an
infected file or click on a malicious link. Once the victim clicks,
the criminal can upload malware and engage in other insidious
acts that will enable prolonged access to the system.
Pretexting (20%) is a similar social attack but is somewhat
more involved. In this scenario, the criminal emails, calls
or even visits an employee in person and engages them in
conversation to fool the victim into providing the attacker with
credentials, or other sensitive data, with which they can launch
an attack. Like a sort of Norman Vincent Peale gone wrong.
Healthcare has a wide attack surface for social tactics due to
the very nature of what they do. Relatives and friends calling
in to check on patients, third-party providers of equipment and
services and so on can provide a social engineering criminal
with a great deal of both opportunities and cover.
Please report to lost and stolen
The theft of assets accounts for 90% of the physical action
types in Healthcare. The number of stolen assets also went up
this year, but that is likely caseload bias. Regardless, laptops
and other portable devices, and paper documents consistently
go missing from healthcare organizations each year. Victim
work areas (oces) account for 36% of theft locations, and
employees’ personal vehicles account for 32% of theft. The
latter is particularly worrisome because in many instances, the
asset in question residing in an employee’s personal vehicle
was likely to be a policy violation. However, it must be admitted
that we do not have the hard data to definitively prove that
statement, but it is oered in the same spirit as “Do you know
what the penalty for cruelty to laptops is in this state? No, sir, I
don’t. Well, it’s probably pretty sti.”
Things to consider
Dr., I can’t read this Rx
The theft or misplacement of unencrypted devices continues
to feed our breach dataset. Full Disk Encryption (FDE) is both
an eective and low-cost method of keeping sensitive data
out of the hands of criminals. FDE mitigates the consequences
of physical theft of assets by limiting exposure to fines and
reporting requirements. Reduce your risk footprint where you
can. Seriously, please do this as we are tired of repeating this
same recommendation!
Institute a smackdown policy
Ensure that policies and procedures are in place which
mandate monitoring of internal Protected Health Information
(PHI) accesses. Make all employees aware via security
training and warning banners that if they view any patient
data without a legitimate business need there is potential for
corrective actions.
Don’t spread the virus
Preventive controls regarding defending against malware
installation are of utmost importance. Take steps to minimize
the impact that ransomware can have on your network. Our
data shows that the most common vectors of malware are via
email and malicious websites, so focus your eorts around
those factors.
DoS attacks continue to be endemic in the
Information vertical, and when incidents become
data breaches the culprits are most often
financially motivated external attackers using web
attack attacks.
Frequency 1,040 incidents, 109 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Web Applications, Everything Else, and
Miscellaneous Errors represent 92% of
breaches within Information
Threat actors External (74%), Internal (23%), Partner
(4%) (breaches)
Actor motives Financial (81%), Espionage (6%), Ideology
(6%), Fun (4%) (breaches)
Personal (56%), Credentials (41%),
Internal (9%)
I’ll need some information first, just the basic facts
While using NAICS categories can be very useful for our
purposes, there are times when one wonders who exactly
was involved in deciding what goes into certain categories.
Information (NAICS 51) is one such case and is very broad
in scope, including company types that at times seem like
odd bedfellows. It covers publishers, motion picture, sound
recording industries, telecommunications, data processing
companies and broadcasting to name but a few. The possible
scenarios that spring to mind for things to go wrong from
a data breach point of view in this NAICS code are truly
astonishing, both in number and variety.
Sadly, it is not our role to speculate on what our lurid
imaginations could create from such a witches’ brew, but only
to report on what does indeed most frequently go awry. With
regard to overall incidents, it’s without doubt most frequently
DoS attacks. 56% of the 1,040 incidents we saw in 2017 can
be attributed to this rapscallion, which isn’t inexplicable when
you consider that many of the organizations in this vertical
have a very large web-based presence.
Use of stolen credentials
Path traversal
Use of backdoor or C2
Abuse of functionality
Brute force
Forced browsing
Session prediction
Top hacking varieties within Information
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 33. Top hacking varieties within Information breaches (n=22)
The findings are somewhat more varied, although fewer
in number, when one takes a look from the perspective of
confirmed data disclosure. Web Application Attacks make up
41% of breaches, and as the chart above illustrates, the use of
stolen credentials is one of the primary methods the attacker
uses to gain unauthorized access via the World Wide Web, the
information superhighway.
Web application
Backdoor or C2
Desktop sharing
Top hacking vectors within Information
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 34. Top hacking vectors within Information breaches (n=49)
Database (server)
Web app (server)
Human resources (person)
Mail (server)
Other (person)
POS controller (server)
VM host (server)
Laptop (user device)
Documents (media)
Router or switch (network)
Top assets involved in Information
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 35. Aected assets within Information breaches (n=99)
Can you show me where it hurts?
However, the chart only tells part of the story (do any charts
tell the whole story?). The reason in this case is that in many
instances the vector of attack is not clearly outlined. Like a
doctor attempting to ascertain the root cause from the visible
symptoms, we must examine the data corpus a bit more
thoroughly. There is typically enough data to show us that
the aected asset was a database for example, and it was
“hacked”—but the path the criminal took (the vector) to get
there is not always clearly outlined.
This, in large part, explains why the Everything Else pattern
(which, as we said earlier is a sort of catch-all for low-detailed
attacks) is one of the top patterns in this vertical. To revisit our
medical analogy above, we can tell by the symptoms that there
is an infection present but not whether it is viral or bacterial
in nature. It is certainly possible that they gained an initial
foothold in the database via a web application and that many
of these attacks might find a home in the Web Application
Attacks pattern, but the devil is in the (lack of) details. Social
attacks on HR employees also make a showing in this pattern,
indicating that the Healthcare industry is not the only one
being targeted in W-2 pretexting scams.
Did you mean to post that?
Unfortunately, a great chasm often exists between the
employee of the résumé and the employee in fact. That may
be why Miscellaneous Errors rounds out the top three patterns
for this vertical. It can be attributed largely to misconfigured
databases and publishing errors (making data viewable to
audiences not intended to see it), and while irksome and
sometimes expensive, they occurred due to the carelessness
of employees and were not motivated by financial gain as were
the attacks mentioned above.
Things to consider
2FA! 2FA!
Implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication in your
enterprise for those who administer any web applications or
databases. If at all possible establish two-factor authentication
with all users in your organization.
Avoid being the next Get Wrecked meme
DoS protection is a must for companies in this vertical. Monitor
your daily usage and prepare for spikes in trac that are
indicative of larger than normal legitimate usage.
Make it all clean and nice
Implement a routine checklist for general security hygiene, and
have sys admins make sure that the systems you build are built
to deploy patches and updates in a timely fashion. Automate
anything you can as this reduces the human error associated
with many breaches we see. Conduct routine scans to
discover misconfigurations before an adversary does.
21. We would be remiss if we did not point out that this statement is about espionage motive as a whole, and not just the Cyber-Espionage pattern. When current
employees acquire and exfiltrate sensitive data, it is placed under the Insider and Privilege Misuse pattern, even if their motive was espionage.
Espionage motives fell from a percentage standpoint,
but this industry is still a target for state-aliated
Frequency 536 incidents, 73 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Cyber-Espionage, Everything Else and Web
Applications represent 76% of breaches within
Threat actors External (89%), Internal (13%) (breaches)
Actor motive Financial (53%), Espionage (47%), and
Fun(2%) (breaches)
Personal (32%), Secrets (30%),
Credentials (24%)
If you build it, they will come
The Zhuangzi says, “The petty thief is imprisoned but the big
thief becomes a feudal lord.” That still has the ring of truth
to it a couple millennia later. Have you ever had a deep and
meaningful thought, and then some time later read the same
thought expressed better by someone who had been dead
for centuries? D’oh! Alas, there really isn’t much new under
the sun, but you can bet your bottom dollar if you do have an
original idea someone will want to steal it. This is particularly
true in the Manufacturing vertical. A cybercriminal can steal a
year’s worth of your planning, research and development, and
other secret information and then use that ill-gotten advantage
to bring your idea to market first and more cheaply.
This extremely impolite behavior explains why Cyber-Espionage
is again prominent in this vertical, accounting for 31% of all
breaches. Like the kid in middle school who did no work on
the team project but still got a good grade because of your
eort, state-aliated actors, and current21 or former employees
stealing valuable intellectual property via espionage to gain
a competitive advantage, was the motivation behind 47% of
breaches. This year, incidents and breaches are both down
from the 2017 report (620 incidents including 124 breaches),
and the margin by which the Cyber-Espionage pattern leads is
not as pronounced as it was then. However, this flagitious form
of “rapid prototyping” is a very real threat to manufacturers.
Digital certificate
Data varieties compromised in
Source code
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 36. Compromised data varieties within Manufacturing breaches
Secret lovers
… that’s what they are. At least that is what the data shows
in this vertical. Personal data (32%) and Secrets (29%) are
almost tied for first place. Credentials (24%) also make a solid
appearance as mentioned above, and stolen credentials can
be used to advance attacks and ultimately compromise other
data types. When we look at targeted versus opportunistic
attacks, we see that (when known) breaches in this vertical
are 86% targeted. Since, overall, the vast majority of attacks
are opportunistic in nature, this finding underlines the point
that criminals go after certain Manufacturing entities with
a very specific purpose in mind. The victim organization is
chosen because they have trade secrets that are highly
desirable to the attacker. Unlike many other industry verticals
such as Retail, Financial and Insurance and Accommodation
and Food Services in which the motivation is nearly always
financial and carried out almost exclusively by organized crime,
Manufacturing shows a greater percentage of state-aliated
actors (53%) than it does organized crime (35%). Likewise,
the motives of the actors are much closer to an equal division
between financial (53%) and espionage (47%).
Things to consider
Joy in division
Keep highly sensitive and secret data separated from the rest
of your network. Restrict access to it to only those individuals
who absolutely require it to do their jobs. Even then, monitor
that access routinely to make sure the data is not being
copied, moved or accessed in a suspicious manner.
There can only be 9 “00” agents
It is not only state-aliated actors you must concern yourself
with if you wish to keep your secrets safe. Implement data loss
prevention (DLP) controls to identify and block transfers of
data by employees, and especially those who are terminated
or resigning.
Reeling them in
While this recommendation may be verging on the repetitive,
most external espionage cases begin with some type of
phishing attack. Provide your employees with a very quick
and easy way to report social attacks and encourage them to
do so.
Professional, Technical
and Scientific Services
Denial of Service and assorted malware account for
the majority of security incidents in this industry while
detection and containment times are dismal.
Frequency 540 incidents, 132 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Everything Else, Web Applications and
Miscellaneous Errors represent 64% of
breaches within Professional Services
Threat actors External (70%), Internal (31%), Multiple parties
(2%), Partner (1%) (breaches)
Actor motives Financial (74%), Espionage (21%), Fun (2%)
Personal (57%), Credentials (29%),
Spice of life
This industry encompasses a plethora of organizations that
provide B2B and B2C services ranging from law oces
to landscape architecture to research and development
in various disciplines. However, despite the variety of
organizational types, after sifting the data thoroughly enough
to make biscuits, we were still not able to pull out subgroups
with enough members to make statistically significant
dierentiations. But it wasn’t from a lack of trying.
First, we searched for some commonalities in the 30 breaches
that fell into the Everything Else pattern since it was one of
the top pattern types. The data told us that almost half of the
breaches involved either phishing or pretexting as a threat
action and were financially motivated. It also informed us that
almost another third of the breaches involved the use of stolen
credentials, but it did not add enough additional details for it to
be coded into a more specific pattern—bummer.
In many industries one pattern will far outstrip the
others regarding frequency (e.g., Point of Sale and
Accommodation and Food Services). However, in this
industry, Web Application Attacks and Miscellaneous
Errors are in a statistical dead heat with the previously
noted “catch all” pattern. Phishing campaigns resulting
in credential theft used to access web applications and
further data compromise was uncovered when inspecting
the threat actions within Web Application Attacks.
Use of stolen creds
Privilege abuse
Use of backdoor or C2
Data mishandling
Action varieties within Professional Services
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 37. Top threat action varieties within Professional, Technical
and Scientific Services breaches (n=116)
Breaches in the Miscellaneous Errors pattern featured
mistakes involving misdelivery (sending information to an
incorrect recipient) and misconfigurations of databases.
This has been on the rise with databases being deployed on
internet-facing infrastructure with the default configuration
unchanged and providing open access to anyone. Anyone, if
you aren’t aware of it already, often turns out to be security
researchers actively seeking out these kinds of errors and
reporting on them.
Zooming out
Since we did not find enough answers when we confined our
attention to confirmed data disclosure events, we decided to
cast our nets a bit wider and take a look at all incidents (not
just confirmed breaches) in this industry. When we do that
two patterns make up a big part of the picture: Crimeware
(46% of all incidents) and Denial of Service attacks (20% of
incidents). However, with regard to the former, the data was
somewhat light on details and consisted of scenarios such as
successful phishing attacks that lead to malware installation,
but without the functionality of the malware recorded, and
without confirmation of data loss. At the end of the day, since
both attacks can be disruptive to business (particularly for
those who rely heavily on their internet presence to conduct
business), we can only conclude that either existing controls
prevented the breach, the breach was successful but the aim
was not to steal data, or we knew of a successful attack but
were unable to confirm any data loss associated with it.
All external
All internal
Customer (internal)
Unrelated third party (external)
Reported by employee (internal)
Fraud detection (external)
IT review (internal)
Netork Intrusion Detection Systems (internal)
Discovery methods in Professional Services
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 38. Top breach discovery methods within Professional,
Technical and Scientific Services (n=77)
Tempus Fugit
Moving on to the breach timeline, when the time to
compromise was known it was found that it was taking hours
or less for the attackers. Meanwhile, more often than not
breaches are taking days, or longer before they are detected.
When one considers that in 60% of cases, the breach was
discovered by an external party it seems there is not a great
deal of self-evaluation happening with regard to security.
Almost certainly, when you have to wait for your customer
(26%) to tell you that you have been breached, it is likely to
have taken longer and done more damage than it would have
if it had been discovered internally. Likewise, if an external
unrelated third party (10%), informs you that your database
has been found lacking in regard to security, it is not a good
indicator of program maturity either.
Things to consider
You are more than a label
Business services organizations are not all alike in what they
oer or the fields in which they specialize. If you align or do
significant amount of business with a particular industry,
understand their threat profile and use it to make security
decisions. Don’t be an unknowing participant in an attack
against your client’s sensitive data.
The DoS and Don’ts
DoS attacks make up a significant portion of incidents for
this NAICS code, regardless of the specific nature of the
organization. Have a DoS protection service and understand at
least the basics of the agreement in the not unlikely event you
are attacked.
Establish boundaries
We have seen numerous examples of POS breaches where
the vendor didn’t establish some basic security controls on
the assets, and neither did the client. An unchanged default
password later and the asset is breached. This is a simplistic
example, but a lesson can be learned from this. When it
comes to protection of client data, whether in an IT services
relationship or other service provider engagement, eliminate
diusion of responsibility wherever possible up front and
before fingers begin to be pointed.
Public Administration
Cyberespionage remains a large concern for the
public sector, with state-aliated actors accounting
for over half of all breaches. Privilege misuse and
error by insiders account for a third of breaches.
Frequency 22,788 incidents, 304 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Cyber-Espionage, Privilege Misuse, Everything
Else, Web Applications, and Miscellaneous
Errors represent 92% of breaches
Threat actors External (67%), Internal (34%), Partner (2%),
Multiple parties (3%) (breaches)
Actor motives 44% Espionage, 36% Financial, 14%
Fun (breaches)
Personal (41%), Secrets (24%) Medical (14%)
Close enough for government work
A quick look at the number of incidents within this industry
could provide many malcontented citizens with another verbal
Molotov cocktail to hurl at the walls of government. But, as in
prior years, it is our duty to point out that there is more going
on here than meets the eye. In the United States, entities
of the federal government are required to report security
incidents to the US-CERT. You may recall seeing their logo
on our partner page, and thanks in large part to them and
other contributors we have a degree of visibility into what is
going on in the public sector in the US. It is important to keep
in mind that many of these incidents are of the general policy
violations ilk, or routine malware events in which a system gets
infected and is cleaned up by a regular process that does not
result in any breach of data. No harm, no foul. In other industry
verticals they would not be required to disclose such events,
and therefore we do not see them. For the purposes of this
report, we will focus on the 304 confirmed data breaches that
were reported.
Everything Else
Privilege Misuse
Miscellaneous Errors
Web Applications
Lost and Stolen Assets
Payment Card Skimmers
Point of Sale
Denial of Service
Patterns within Public
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 39. Incident Classification Patterns within Public Administration
breaches (n=304)
The past several years have provided us with a few constants
with regard to attack patterns for this sector. The familiar
faces looking back at us like an old episode of Hollywood
Squares include Cyber-Espionage, Privilege Misuse and
Miscellaneous Errors to name a few. This year we have a rat
pack of five patterns that show statistically similar numbers,
with a new arrival in the form of the Everything Else pattern.22
The consistent association of espionage with government
targets is not shocking. Governments like to know what their
counterparts in other countries are up to, and this year is
no dierent. When the threat actor is known, state-aliated
adversaries tend to figure somewhat prevalently.
Organized crime
External actor varieties within Public
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 40. External actor varieties within Public Administration
breaches (n=122)
22. Over three-quarters of the breaches within Everything Else featured hacking as an action. Much to our chagrin most did not have a particular variety of
hacking recorded, nor what asset was aected.
Phishing attacks, installations and subsequent uses of
backdoors or C2 channels are front and center in espionage
related breaches. Malware functionalities that are often used
to pop credentials, in the form of keyloggers and password
dumpers, are also found in significant numbers.
Use of backdoor or C2
Password dumper
Exploit vulnerability
Capture app data
Cyber-Espionage action varieties
within Public
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 41. Top Cyber-Espionage threat action varieties within Public
Administration Cyber-Espionage breaches (n=76)
Personnel’s personalities and personal information
Governments have a unique relationship to the people whose
data they maintain—there are a number of roles, depending
on the area and level of the government. Governments are
storing information not only for citizens they serve, but also the
citizens under their employ—governments remain the largest
employer for most countries. Personal information is in the top
group of data varieties lost in Public Administration breaches,
along with secrets23 attributed to espionage.
Data compromised in Public
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 42. Data varieties compromised in Public Administration
breaches (n=250)
Not only do governments have to worry about the protection
of personal data, but also must address personnel as a likely
driver of breaches. Public Administration trails only Healthcare
in the prevalence of insiders as causal actors in data breaches.
Malicious or inappropriate behavior is categorized in the
Privilege Misuse pattern. Most often the misuse is privilege
abuse (78%) which is using existing privileges in a manner
that is unauthorized and/or out of policy. Mishandling of data
and unapproved workarounds (both 24%) are other ways
that insiders will misuse their access to systems and data.
Erroneous behavior will fall either into Miscellaneous Errors,
where acts such as misdelivery of data or publishing errors are
recorded, or Lost and Stolen Assets if the breach was caused
by a misplaced organizational asset.
23. The VERIS (Vocabulary for Event Recording and Incident Sharing) framework features a data variety of Secrets as well as Classified. It is likely that many of
the breaches actually dealt with classified information as opposed to intellectual property.
Finally, with regard to timelines, the small sample of breaches
where time to compromise was known were indicative of
quick compromises, much like we see for the entire dataset. In
contrast, almost half of breaches were discovered months or
years after the initial compromise.
Things to consider
Everybody wants you
Depending on function, government entities may be targeted
by state-aliated groups, organized crime or employees. Keep
in mind the type of data you handle and consider who might
benefit from access to it and plan your security accordingly.
Auditor, audit thyself
Detection and remediation times are poor. Conduct routine
monitoring and security audits to help stop the bleeding faster.
It’s a privilege, not a right
Make sure that access privileges are provided on a “need to
know” basis and have exit programs in place when employees
leave the organization to ensure access to systems is closed
upon their exit.
Retailers with online presences continue to be
targeted for DoS attacks. Payment card skimmers
remain a problem for the brick and mortar set.
Frequency 317 incidents, 169 with confirmed data
Top 3 patterns Denial of Service, Web Applications, and
Payment Card Skimmers represent 75% of
Threat actors 93% External, 7% Internal (all incidents)
Actor motives 96% Financial, 1% Fun, 1% Convenience
(all incidents)
Payment (73%), Personal (16%),
Credentials (8%)
Open for business
Those who live by the sword are destined to die by the sword,
we’re told. The Retail sector equivalent is that those whose
livelihood relies on their website shall die by the website when
a DoS attack hits. DoS attacks remain a major area of concern
for retailers for just this reason, and for those who make their
living entirely by their e-commerce site, mitigation plans are a
must, not a luxury.
While the DBIR does not classify DoS attacks as breaches—
since the confidentiality of data is not typically compromised
in these attacks—the potential result of downtime or even
performance degradation can wreak havoc on the bottom line.
Denial of Service
Payment Card Skimmers
Web Applications
Everything Else
Point of Sale
Privilege Misuse
Miscellaneous Errors
Lost and Stolen Assets
Patterns within Retail
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 43. Incident Classification Patterns within Retail incidents
Packet snier
Brute force
RAM scraper
Export data
Capture app data
Malware varieties within Retail
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 44. Malware varieties within Retail incidents (n=63)
E-commerce application “enhancements”
When we look at confirmed breaches, Web Application
Attacks remain prevalent. Input validation weaknesses such as
OS Commanding or SQLi as well as use of stolen credentials
are examples of hacking techniques used to compromise a
web application. Once the device is compromised, we often
see code modifications in the payment application designed
to capture payment card data as it is read into the app, as well
as exfiltration of the data. Essentially the criminals are turning
a PCI-compliant application that does not store payment card
data into a very non-PCI-compliant and criminal-controlled
data harvester.
Desktop (user device)
Mail (server)
Laptop (user device)
POS controller (server)
POS terminal (user device)
Documents (media)
ATM (terminal)
Database (server)
Gas pump terminal (terminal)
Web app (server)
Top asset varieties within Retail
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 45. Asset varieties within Retail incidents (n=300)
Looking at the malware varieties above, the previously
mentioned combination of malware that captures and
exfiltrates payment cards is evident. Sandwiched in between
those two is ransomware, so the Retail industry can empathize
with most others as a victim of that form of attack.
Terminal velocity
For the traditional brick and mortar incarnation of retail
establishments, payment card skimmers were reprising
their role from last year and accounting for almost a third of
breaches in this sector. Most of those (87%) were found in gas
pump terminals. Tampering of in-store PIN entry devices (PED
pads) was not non-existent, but nowhere near as prevalent as
gas pumps. It used to be that we’d see the criminals swapping
out the devices while the employees were distracted by a
partner. Speculation is not what we aim for in this report,
but perhaps the eorts involved to successfully a) acquire
and reconfigure a PED pad, b) swap the malicious device
without anyone noticing immediately or after the fact, and c)
accomplishing step b in reverse, are not worth the potential
monetary gain. Especially when a gas pump skimmer can be
installed in the amount of time it took you to read this section.
Please do not touch
A cause for hope is the low number of RAM scraping malware
that would align with POS intrusions. Retailers, both large
and small, have made their way into our reports due to
compromises of their POS environments. We are not going
to write up a victory speech, but will hope this is an indicator
of improvements in restricting access to retail payment card
information environments from the internet and strengthening
the authentication for those who are allowed. Who knows,
with contactless payment methods becoming more common,
maybe one day RAM scrapers will go the way of the horse and
buggy. Let’s just hope they aren’t replaced with another attack
that is just as fruitful for the criminal element.
Things to consider
Protect the king
E-commerce applications are a critical asset for retailers.
Defenses against availability as well as integrity and
confidentiality losses must be implemented, tested, and
refined. See the DoS section for more recommendations.
Loss prevention
Retailers for years have used loss prevention controls, i.e.
cameras, security guards and store layout designs, to rein
in old-fashioned shoplifting. Extend that mentality to identify
tampering of any card processing device—gas pumps in
Keep up with the times
Embrace technologies that make it harder for criminals to
conduct card-present fraud. Chip and PIN, contactless-
enabled POS terminals, as examples. Make the adversary shift
their tactics.
Wrap up
This concludes another DBIR, so let us take a page from the
Fabulous Thunderbirds down in Austin and wrap it up. And
speaking of “keeping it weird,” it seems that the criminals
will continue to do that for us, leaving us free to prepare for
whatever they bring against us. And as we mentioned at the
beginning of this report, it is certainly possible to be aware
of what is most likely to befall your organization and how to
plan accordingly. Fourteen years’ worth of data, collaboration,
research and analysis continues to show us that although
almost anything is possible (and we’ve seen a few things that
beggar belief), criminals are, as a rule, most likely to continue
to use the tools against you that have been most eective in
the past. Knowing where your organization is in the food chain
for criminals gives you an advantage, so be sure to use it.
Once again, we say a heartfelt thank you to our readers, our
contributors and our supporters. Without your invaluable
assistance this document would not be possible and we are
truly grateful. Lastly, let us urge you to keep sharing! Share
your experience, share your insight and whenever possible
your data, as it is only by so doing that we can be better
prepared to meet our foes. As Benjamin Franklin so aptly
stated, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will
all hang separately.” We very much hope to meet you here
again next year.
Questions? Comments? Brilliant ideas?
We want to hear them. Drop us a line at,
find us on LinkedIn, or tweet @VZdbir with the hashtag
Appendix A: Countering cybersecurity threats
Robert Novy
Deputy Assistant Director
United States Secret Service
2017 blurred some of the distinctions previously made
between cybersecurity threats. North Korea and Russia
were responsible for the WannaCry and NotPetya global
attacks, respectively, which had more in common with
criminal ransomware campaigns than the sort of nation-
state cyberattacks previously encountered. These incidents
also represent the ongoing diusion of malicious cyber
capabilities to new actors who employ them in novel ways
or in new regions. For example, the recent emergence of
“jackpotting” attacks against ATMs located in the US is just
one manifestation of the spread of an existing capability.
For the Secret Service, our cybercrime focus is on its impact,
or potential impact, on the integrity of financial and payment
systems—after all, the Secret Service was founded in 1865 to
safeguard these systems from criminal exploitation. Our
modern financial system depends heavily on information
technology for convenience and eciency, but criminals
continually adapt their tactics to exploit vulnerabilities within
expanding networks for their illicit financial gain. It is for this
reason that the Secret Service was assigned responsibility
to investigate cybercrimes, when they first became specific
violations of US law in 1984.
The Secret Service continues to assess that the most
significant threat to financial and payment systems is the
transnational network of Russian-speaking cybercriminals
that emerged from the former Soviet Union states in Eastern
Europe; however, we are seeing new actors target financial
and payment systems and rapidly develop sophisticated
capabilities by leveraging the range of cyber tools and services
available through these existing cybercriminal networks.
Accordingly, we are continuing to evaluate cybercriminal
trends and adapt our approaches to combat them.
Cybersecurity risks are products of three elements:
threat, vulnerability, and impact. Whereas other reports on
cybersecurity risks look at a single component of the risk
landscape, the DBIR is an annual opportunity to consider
the holistic risk picture based on evaluating actual incidents,
rather than viewing single elements of cybersecurity risk in a
vacuum. This enables organizations to prioritize and align their
resources to reduce their cybersecurity risks. Consequently,
organizations can avoid over-reactions to the cybersecurity
headline or incident of the day.
For the Secret Service, our core focus is countering the
criminal threat. Financial gain continues to be a primary driver
of the most sophisticated criminal schemes and presents
evolving challenges as criminal networks reinvest the
revenue they generate into developing more sophisticated
capabilities. In FY 2017, Secret Service financial and cyber-
crime investigations prevented over $3 billion in fraud losses.
However, the true measure of our eectiveness is the degree
we are able to disrupt the proliferation of malicious cyber
capabilities and bring those behind them to face justice.
The US Secret Service continues to relentlessly pursue,
extradite and arrest transnational cybercriminals across the
globe. We have long contended that the apprehension of
highly skilled cybercriminals is a critical function in disrupting
the worldwide growth of illicit cyber capability and mitigating
the threat to the US financial sector. However, we also
embrace opportunities to counter transnational cybercrime by
addressing vulnerabilities and reducing the impact. Through
our network of field oces and Financial and Electronic
Crimes Task Forces, we partner directly with organizations to
help them better understand the threats they face so they can
identify the most eective mitigation strategies to reduce their
level of exposure and increase their overall resilience. We also
share information through Information Sharing and Analysis
Organizations, DHS and our interagency partners, and industry
reports, like the DBIR, to broadly improve understanding
cybersecurity risks and trends to improve security.
The Secret Service does not execute its mission alone,
but rather through partnership with other agencies and
organizations. The Secret Service remains committed
to working with all potential partners for the purpose of
preventing, detecting and investigating cybercrimes. We hope
this year’s DBIR, like those of the past, will aid our partners
in improving their cybersecurity as we continue to focus on
working with our partners throughout the law enforcement
community to counter cybersecurity threats.
Appendix B: Feeling vulnerable?
24. Verizon 2017 DBIR, Appendix B: The Patch Process Leftovers.
25. See the “Methodology” appendix for caveats about small sample sizes and similar bars.
Last year24 we talked about how just looking at what percent
of findings are fixed doesn’t tell the whole story. We also
pointed out that findings not fixed during the quarter tend
to be forgotten and take a much longer time to fix (if they
ever are).
This year, we wanted to use the vulnerability and other data as
a lens into what we leave lying around our networks, and then
compare it to what actors actually look for.
To truly manage vulnerabilities and not play Whac-A-
Mole with scan findings, you need to trust your asset
management, understand how your vulnerabilities fit into
the context of your organization, and be able to analyze
the paths attackers might take in that context.
First, at most, 6% of breaches can be attributed to patchable
vulnerabilities this year. And a third of those still involved
phishing or credentials. Figure4625 gives us a quick peak at
the types of data taken using vulnerabilities. Personal data is
still near the top, but medical data has dropped and system
information, sensitive internal data, and trade secrets have
sprung up.
Virtual currency
Compromised data varieties in
potential exploit
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 46. Compromised data varieties within potential exploit
breaches (n=128)
So, what does it look like when attackers are using their
knowledge of your network rather than your emails or
credentials for their nefarious needs? Figure47 gives an idea
of what attackers are looking for based on honeypot data.
Telnet and SSH (Secure Socket Shell) are highly likely to be
credential guessing. HTML could be either vulnerabilities or
credentials and SMB (Server Message Block) is most certainly
looking for vulnerabilities.
Service (Port)
Median frequency of occurence
0% 10% 20% 30% 40%
Port targeting frequency in honeypots
Figure 47. Port targeting frequency in honeypots (n=145,438,160)
On the other hand, Figure48, is derived from Intrusion
Protection System (IPS) data and, after removing alerts that
were only suspicious, (not clearly malicious), and DoS, we get
a much dierent picture. A flavor of password brute force is
still at the top, but represented only in that single row. The
following malice leans much more toward application exploits.
Granted, if you’re running enterprise IPS, hopefully you’ve
already shut down telnet, but it still shows a stark contrast
between what gets thrown against the internet blindly and
what organizations are likely to see.26 Additionally, these are
not all server vulnerabilities. The “memory corruption” bucket
is predominantly made up of client-application vulnerabilities
26. A word of advice, you probably should be defended against both, starting with the “whole internet” threats.
and webmail
brute force
and control
Use after free
0% 25% 50% 75%
Malice type detected
Top attack types detected by IPS
Figure 48. Top attack types detected by IPS (n=624,955,428,504)
Open ports identified in vulnerability scans
0 200 400 600 800
Number of times seen in internal scans
0 1,000 2,000
443 80
80 445
1720 135
22 139
1556 137
123 123
111 1900
53 138
500 500
25 443
21 3702
445 902
139 3389
3389 515
137 161
135 7
514 19
264 17
1364 13
1363 9
Number of times seen in external scans
Figure 49. Open ports from external and internal vulnerability scan data (n=69,045)
Looking at the left side of Figure49, the good news is that
organizations are, from an open port standpoint, more
tightened down externally—with the top ports associated with
expected internet-facing services. The bad news is if an initial
foothold is gained (by phishing or other method) then it’s the
right-hand side that you must be reading from, and that shows
much less flattering results.
Having a soft inside probably isn’t all that bad really, as long
as everything inside the bucket belongs together. Based
on Figure50, it appears that’s rarely the case, however. It
shows the approximate mix of clients and servers present in
vulnerability scans, and you can see, very few scans are either
all clients or all servers.
Admittedly, it’s normal to have a few clients for administration
of servers, and certainly servers need to be reachable by
clients. However, given end-user device susceptibility to
providing a foothold via phishing attacks, and our unwillingness
to infer that this mixed bag is a result of whitelisting scanner
IP addresses, improvements in the realm of network
segmentation are still needed. Simply dismissing a vulnerability
because that port isn’t open to the internet is not enough.
Individual scans
Percent of hosts
Split of hosts by scan type
Figure 50. Percent of hosts in scan by type (n=487)
Phew. This section covered a lot of ground. Let’s summarize:
1. Even given all the vulnerabilities out there, credential
attacks are still the number one means the attackers
attempt to get all up in your servers.
2. It’s time to get your asset inventory in order. Dust o that
segmentation project proposal, because no matter how well
you do in your external vulnerability scans, if you mix clients
and servers, you’re going to give the attackers the shot
they’re looking for.
Vulnerability coordination
For every patch that you need to apply, someone has to
create it and it is often an external source that will identify
the weakness. When that’s the case, here’s a window into
that process based on CERT/CC’s analysis of 24 years27 of
vulnerability coordination email. The focus was on how long
a given conversation would last regarding a particular finding
and how many parties were involved based on the number of
unique email address domains in the thread.
27. 24 years, 10 months, 19 days, 9 hours, 49 minutes, and 8 seconds. Ish.
28. Though sometimes it may feel like the reaper.
Figure 51 shows that most vulnerability disclosures were
resolved in 57 days and involved four email domains. In the
span of a month or two, the parties working together can
obtain a Nash equilibrium of sorts and the patch writing can
commence. But what about the big ones? Does a disclosure
involving lots of aected parties correlate with longer
discussion cycles? Nope. No need to fear the disclosure.28
While this hopefully provides a bit of perspective on the whole
vulnerability disclosure thing, if you need a working knowledge
of it, download CERT/CC’s report: The CERT Guide to
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure.29
Number of participants in vulnerability disclosures, and time of discussion
The median length to
coordinate is 57 days.
The median number
of email domains
involved is 4.
1,000 2,000
Recipient domains involved
Figure 51. Relationship between number of parties involved in vulnerability disclosures and time of vulnerability discussion (n=10,671)
Appendix C: Beaten paths
Many people like to think of a breach as a single point in time
event. While thinking about it like that may be of assistance
when trying to wrap your head around the idea of one, in most
cases breaches are made of numerous things that occur in a
given order. You can visualize it as a game of golf. The golfer
is the attacker and their goal is to reach your most sensitive
data (located in the cup). They bring to the game their skill,
the right clubs for the hole depending on the approach, and
almost certainly a flat-brimmed Rickey Fowler cap. The victim
organization is the course designer, and depending on the
value of what resides in that particular cup, they can use
sand traps, water hazards, pin placement and so on in order
to prevent the attacker from scoring par (or god forbid, a
birdie) on that hole. Or, if they can’t keep a scratch golfer from
attaining their goal, then they can at least prolong the process
long enough for security sta to notice there is an unwanted
player on the course and to escort them o the premises.
The golfer tees o, sets up an approach shot, putts and so on.
All in a given pattern. Likewise, the course defends itself at
intervals along the way using the various means at its disposal.
Understanding what those steps are and how they tend to play
out can be of great value to the security practitioner.
The steps a given breach takes can provide additional
information regarding the event, such as:
A deeper understanding of the breach itself
Being able to see each step aords you the possibility of
determining the points at which it might be possible to
mitigate the attack
An ability to threat model alternative paths the attackers
could take to bypass your mitigations if the path continues
past the point where the actor stopped
Number of events
Number of events per breach
Figure 52. Number of events per breach (n=159)
While it’s our belief that this section can be of benefit
to our readers, there are a couple of caveats. Firstly,
we have only recently updated the VERIS schema to
allow for collection of event chain data. Secondly, not
all incident and breach records oer enough details
to attempt to map out the path traveled by the threat
actor. The dataset isn’t yet large enough to be highly
representative, but does provide some insight.
We collect an action, actor, asset and attribute at each
step. Each may be “unknown” or omitted completely if
it did not occur in that particular step of the attack. To
create a single path, we place the actor from the first
step at the beginning of the path. It’s followed by the
action and then the attribute present in the step. For the
remaining steps it proceeds from action to attribute to
action of the next step, skipping over any omitted ones.
Understanding breaches better is a primary goal of the DBIR,
and to that end Figure52 illustrates an interesting possibility.
Most breaches that we see have a very small number of steps
involved. Yes, this goes against the prevailing idea of breaches
usually being long, complex aairs. Let’s be clear that we are
not advising you to bet the family farm on this. As mentioned
above, we are just dipping our toes into this new feature of the
VERIS framework and this section’s goal is to inform VERIS
users about the new capability and get people thinking about
this more advanced way to think about security incidents.
Could someone have missed a step? Do we sometimes not
know how credentials were stolen or how malicious code
ended up on a device? Of course. Having acknowledged those
limitations there are still a lot of areas to touch on now, and
hopefully dig deeper into in the future.
Frequency at
beginning or middle
Frequency at
end of breach
7.5 %
Likelihood of compromise at the end of breach
Figure 53. Likelihood an attribute will be compromised at the end of a
breach (n=159)
Our sample of event chain data shows that attributes are
dierent depending on where in the breach they are involved,
for example if they are in earlier events, or at the end of a
breach. 81% of breaches’ final event features in a loss of
confidentiality. Confidentiality is compromised outside of
the final event of the breach 32% of the time (keep in mind
a confidentiality loss can occur in several events along the
chain). On the other hand, while integrity is compromised
in earlier steps of a breach 33% of the time, only 10% of
breaches end in an integrity compromise.
30. There’s another aspect to this. If there is a large enough population of victims vulnerable to short paths that opportunistic attackers can discover, they won’t
have any incentive to increase their path length, regardless of how easy it is. If there are enough gazelles slower than you, that can be a good thing and
existing controls may be commensurate to the existing risk.
In Figures54 and 55, you can see that breaches typically
progress. It may not make sense for the attacker to take the
attack farther down the path for a small increase in victims.
But as those additional steps get commoditized, it becomes
economically feasible to continue the path longer. A real-
world example would be a ransomware family that encrypted
only the first device compromised versus automating lateral
movement and installing on other devices before “flipping the
switch”. Plan now to stop the longer attacks as, by the time
your plan’s in place, they may have been commoditized.30
Prevalence of actions and attributes at dierent steps of a breach
5 10 15
5 10 15
5 10
5 10 15
5 10 15
5 10
5 10 15
5 10 15
Unknown action
5 10
Number of breaches
Figure 54. Frequency of actions and attributes at dierent steps of a breach (n=159)
Attacker type
How attackers pivoted between techniques to violate dierent security properties
Figure 55. Attack paths
It’s not just about what the attackers do however—it’s also
about your own network. Figure56 was provided by a partner
who specializes in simulating attacks and how attack paths
are successfully blocked. We used this data to compare
success rates of organizations in blocking one- and two-step
paths. We see that for one-step paths, they’re roughly evenly
split between being blocked most of the time and not being
blocked at all (the big bubbles at the top and bottom). On the
other hand, two-step paths were successfully blocked 75% of
the time.
While the future benefits may lie in finding the overlap between
attack paths that attackers use and that organizations are
vulnerable to, and then utilizing mitigations on the path that are
advantageous for defenders but dicult for attackers to route
around, we have not arrived there yet.
Still, attack path testing can be helpful in security unit and
integration testing. And don’t overlook the benefit of using it
to test your security operations. At the end of the day, they’re
your last line of defense. If you don’t know how well they do,
you don’t know your security posture.
How often one and two event test scenarios are blocked
Number of events in attack chain
Percentage of runs blocked
One-event Two-events
Figure 56. How often one- and two-step event test scenarios are blocked (n=688)
Appendix D: Year in review
The Verizon Threat Research and Advisory Center began
2017 much like 2016 by processing intelligence about a
cyberattack on the Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure. Another
cyber-conflict campaign continued into 2017 as organizations
in Saudi Arabia continued to be targeted for Shamoon 2 disk
wiper attacks. Cybercriminals continued to drive revenue with
ransomware. January saw incidents of what would become
significant trends for 2017: Sundown exploit kit (EK) was
delivering a Monero cryptocurrency mining Trojan. Ploutus
ATM malware was “jackpotting” ATMs in Latin America.
In February we collected intelligence about a cybercrime
campaign the Lazarus threat actor launched in October 2016.
A watering hole attack on a Polish financial regulator was
quickly discovered and reported after it infected a Polish bank.
Intelligence unraveled the campaign, which spanned at least
31 countries. Several cyberespionage operations were the
focus of intelligence. The China-based NetTraveller and Deep
Panda were attacking neighboring countries.
WikiLeaks began releasing “Vault7” files leaked from the
US Central Intelligence Agency in early March. A new
patch for Apache Struts fixed the vulnerability that was to
contribute to one of the milestone InfoSec events in 2017.
New sophisticated attacks on banks focused on the RTM
Group and FIN7 threat actors. March was the final month for
Microsoft Security Bulletins. Three of the 18 bulletins patched
vulnerabilities that were already being exploited in the wild. A
cryptocurrency mining variant of the Mirai Internet of Things
(IoT) worm began spreading.
Intelligence about two campaigns by the Stone Panda
(APT10, MenuPass, POTASSIUM) threat actor kicked o
April. “Operation Trade Secret” was a watering hole attack
on the National Foreign Trade Council’s website to spread
the Scanbox exploitation framework. “Operation Cloud
Hopper” was a complex campaign attacking Managed
Service Providers to install a variety of remote access Trojans
(RAT). Microsoft patched two more vulnerabilities after
they had been attacked. CVE-2017-0199, a remote code
execution vulnerability in Oce and WordPad, became one
of the most frequently exploited vulnerabilities for 2017. The
Shadow Brokers released some of the files stolen or leaked
from the NSA. Hackers stole 3,816 Bitcoins (then valued at
about US$5.3 million) from South Korean cryptocurrency
exchange Yapizon.
The WannaCry pseudo-ransomware worm attack began on
May 12. It infected hundreds of thousands of victims using
recently released Shadow Brokers exploits DoublePulsar and
EternalBlue. Malware analysts quickly linked WannaCry to
Lazarus. For the third consecutive month Microsoft Tuesday
patched zero-day attacks. Three zero-day vulnerabilities had
been used by Turla and Fancy Bear (APT28, Sofacy, Sednit,
Pawn Storm, STRONTIUM). The Adylkuzz cryptomining Trojan
began spreading by exploiting the same two Shadow Brokers
exploits used in WannaCry.
In June, the EternalBlue exploit spread the infamous
Gh0stRAT in Singapore. Deep Panda was attacking legal and
investment firms around the world. Microsoft extended their
streak of zero-day attacks in their products a fourth month.
Microsoft released patches for 96 vulnerabilities including two
that were already being exploited in the wild. The Industroyer
and CrashOverride reports detailed the attacks on the
Ukraine power grid in December 2016. Korean cryptocurrency
exchange Bithumb had a malware infection resulting in the
theft of about US$1.1 million.
The year 2017 in InfoSec may be most-remembered for the
NotPetya cyberattack on Ukraine on June 27. Three days after
NotPetya struck it was linked to the Russian Sandworm Team
(BlackEnergy or Telebots). Transferring malware to victims
using Microsoft Oce templates was reported, presaging
similar “living o the land” attacks that became popular in
October. Israeli startup CoinDash conducted an initial coin
oering (ICO). Within hours, they lost about US$7.5 million
after a hacker changed the Ethereum address on the ICO
web page.
Cybercrime drove evil on the internet in August versus cyber-
conflict and cyberespionage. Miscreants released variants
of banking Trojans including Trickbot, Ursnif and Nymain.
Sophisticated attacks by Anunak (Carbanak, Cobalt) indicated
adoption of supply-chain tactics similar to those used in the
NotPetya attack. Anunak exploited zero-day vulnerabilities,
used watering hole attacks, and compromised business
partners to gain access to their targets. The preponderance of
intelligence for the Lazarus threat actor indicated attacks on
the financial services infrastructure and cryptocurrency theft
had become priorities. The variety and volume of cryptomining
Trojans surged in the last half of August.
NotPetya competes with Equifax for the top milestone in
InfoSec in 2017. On September 7, Equifax announced the
data breach aecting millions of Americans and hundreds
of thousands of residents of other countries. The depth of
breached information was unprecedented, including Social
Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card
numbers, tax identification numbers, email addresses and
drivers’ license information beyond the license numbers.
Equifax soon acknowledged the breach exploited the
vulnerability in Apache Struts’ Jakarta multipart parser. A patch
for that vulnerability had been released in March. A supply-
chain attack on the freeware utility CCleaner targeted at least
18 companies in a campaign probably mounted by a threat
actor aligned with China. Although it was quickly discovered
and neutralized, it blazed a trail for future supply-chain attacks.
After a two-month respite from zero-day attacks exploiting
Microsoft products, a vulnerability in .NET framework, CVE-
2017-8759, was used to target Russian-speaking users to
install FinSpy commercial spyware.
Far East International Bank in Taiwan reported fraudulent
malware-enabled SWIFT transfers on October 6. Miscreants
attempted to steal US$60 million, but the bank recovered
at least US$46 million. Intelligence quickly tied the Taiwan
heist to Lazarus. Attacks on a zero-day vulnerability in Oce
surfaced on September 28. Microsoft released another zero-
day patch on October 10. Attacks installing FinSpy continued
in October using an unknown and unpatched vulnerability in
Adobe Flash Player. Adobe patched it six days later. Anunak
spoofed the US Security and Exchange commission for
precisely targeted malicious messages. They exploited the
native Windows Dynamic Data Exchange protocol to infect
targeted systems with the DNSMessenger Trojan. On October
24, a new ransomware campaign, BadRabbit, was launched
using malware pre-positioned on websites popular in Russia,
Ukraine and Eastern Europe. About 70% of the victims had
Russian IP addresses. Ukraine suered the greatest disruption
of critical web properties and infrastructure. In less than
two days, the attack was linked to the Russian Telebots
(Sandworm Team) threat actor.
November marked the beginning of the “Gold Rush” by
cybercriminals to cash in on the huge surge in values in
cryptocurrencies. Cybercriminals had been spreading
cryptomining malware since at least 2011. In November
cryptocurrency cybercrimes, from outright theft to hijacking
the processing cycles, increased by more than one order of
magnitude. Japanese companies were attacked using a pair
of Trojans, ONI and MBR-ONI. They wiped the disks of their
victims, probably to eliminate logs and other artifacts. The
cryptocurrency startup “Parity” lost control of US$150 million
in Ethereum. Experts disagree on whether the loss was the
result of accident or malice. Stone Panda resurfaced, attacking
Japanese companies using documents weaponized with the
zero-day exploit in .NET framework that Microsoft patched in
Intelligence collections in December began with updates
on the Russian actors Turla Group and Anunak. One of the
vulnerabilities Microsoft patched in November was CVE-2017-
11882 in Oce Equation Editor. Anunak began exploiting
it for cybercrime and the Iranian actor OilRig used it for
cyberespionage attacks within weeks. Then we had to reset
almost every tool, tactic and procedure (TTP) for Anunak. They
had forgone spear phishing with Windows Trojans and their
initial intrusion vector exploited the Jakarta multipart parser
vulnerability in Apache Struts. It was the same vulnerability
used for the initial intrusion of Equifax. Anunak exploited their
victim’s Linux servers before moving on to compromising
Windows systems. Cryptocurrency exchange NiceHash lost
US$60 million. YouBit closed after the loss of 17% of their
cryptocurrency assets. The Verizon Threat Advisory Research
Center (VTRAC) closed out 2017 awash in the flood of
cryptocurrency cybercrime intelligence.
Appendix E: Methodology
One of the things readers value most about this report is
the level of rigor and integrity we employ when collecting,
analyzing, and presenting data. Knowing our readership
cares about such things and consumes this information with
a keen eye helps keep us honest. Detailing our methods is an
important part of that honesty.
Our overall methodology remains intact and largely unchanged
from previous years. All incidents included in this report were
individually reviewed and converted (if necessary) into the
VERIS framework to create a common, anonymous aggregate
dataset. If you are unfamiliar with the VERIS framework, it is
short for Vocabulary for Event Recording and Incident Sharing,
it is free to use, and links to VERIS resources are at the
beginning of this report.
The collection method and conversion techniques diered
between contributors. In general, three basic methods
(expounded below) were used to accomplish this:
1. Direct recording of paid external forensic investigations and
related intelligence operations conducted by Verizon using
the VERIS Webapp
2. Direct recording by contributors using VERIS
3. Converting contributors’ existing schema into VERIS
All contributors received instruction to omit any information
that might identify organizations or individuals involved.
Reviewed spreadsheets and VERIS Webapp JavaScript Object
Notation (JSON) are ingested by an automated workflow that
converts the incidents and breaches within into the VERIS
JSON format as necessary, adds missing enumerations,
and then validates the record against business logic and the
VERIS schema. The automated workflow subsets the data and
analyzes the results. Based on the results of this exploratory
analysis, the validation logs from the workflow, and discussions
with the contributors providing the data, the data is cleaned
and re-analyzed. This process runs for roughly three months
as data is collected and analyzed.
Incident eligibility
For a potential entry to be eligible for the incident/breach
corpus, a couple of requirements must be met. The entry
must be a confirmed security incident defined as a loss of
confidentiality, integrity, or availability. In addition to meeting
the baseline definition of “security incident” the entry is
assessed for quality. We create a subset of incidents that pass
our quality filter. The details of what is a “quality” incident are:
The incident must have at least seven enumerations (e.g.
threat actor variety, threat action category, variety of
integrity loss et al.) across 34 fields OR be a DDoS attack.
Exceptions are given to confirmed data breaches with less
than seven enumerations
The incident must have at least one known VERIS threat
action category (hacking, malware, etc.)
To pass the quality filter, the incident must also be within
the time frame of analysis, (November 1, 2016 to October
31, 2017 for this report). The 2017 caseload is the primary
analytical focus of the report, but the entire range of data
is referenced throughout, notably in trending graphs. We
also exclude incidents and breaches aecting individuals
that cannot be tied to an organizational attribute loss. If your
friend’s laptop was hit with CryptoLocker it would not be
included in this report.
Lastly, for something to be eligible for inclusion in the DBIR, we
have to know about it, which brings us to sample bias.
Data subsets
We already mentioned the subset of incidents that passed our
quality requirements, but as part of our analysis there are other
instances where we define subsets of data. These subsets
consist of legitimate incidents that would eclipse smaller
trends if left in. These are removed and analyzed separately
(as called out in the relevant sections). This year we have three
subsets of legitimate incidents that are not analyzed as part of
the overall corpus:
1. As with last year, we separately analyzed a subset of web
servers that were identified as secondary targets (such as
taking over a website to spread malware)
2. We separated and note a subset of several thousand
breaches of websites to harvest credit card numbers.
These are discovered using a single search for the unique
malware used. They can be found in a separate directory in
the VERIS Community Database (VCDB) repository
3. We separately analyze botnet-related incidents
Finally, we create some subsets to help further our analysis.
In particular, a single subset is used for all analysis within the
DBIR unless otherwise stated. It includes only quality incidents
as described above, removes a large number of non-specific
DDoS incidents, and the aforementioned three subsets.
Acknowledgement of sample bias
We would like to reiterate that we make no claim that the
findings of this report are representative of all data breaches
in all organizations at all times. Even though the combined
records from all our contributors more closely reflect reality
than any of them in isolation, it is still a sample. And although
we believe many of the findings presented in this report to
be appropriate for generalization (and our confidence in this
grows as we gather more data and compare it to that of
others), bias undoubtedly exists. Unfortunately, we cannot
measure exactly how much bias exists (i.e., in order to give
a precise margin of error). We have no way of knowing what
proportion of all data breaches are represented because we
have no way of knowing the total number of data breaches
across all organizations in 2017. Many breaches go unreported
(though our sample does contain many of those). Many more
are as yet unknown by the victim (and thereby unknown to us).
While we believe many of the findings presented in this report
to be appropriate, generalization, bias, and methodological
flaws undoubtedly exist. However, with 67 contributing
organizations this year, we’re aggregating across the dierent
collection methods, priorities, and goals of our partners. We
hope this aggregation will help minimize the influence of any
individual shortcomings in each of the samples, and the whole
of this research will be greater than the sum of its parts.
31. Wilson method, 95% confidence level.
32. If you wonder why we treat them as hypotheses rather than findings, to confirm or deny our hypothesis would require a second, unique dataset we had not
inspected ahead of time.
Statistical analysis
We strive for statistical correctness in the DBIR. In this year’s
data sample, the confidence interval is at least +/- 2% for
breaches and +/- 0.4% for incidents.31 Subsets of the data
(such as breaches within the Espionage pattern) will be even
wider as the sample size is smaller. We have tried to treat
every statement within the DBIR as a hypothesis32 based
on exploratory analysis and ensure that each statement is
accurate at a given confidence level (normally 95%).
Our data is non-exclusively multinomial meaning a single
feature, such as “Action”, can have multiple values (i.e., “social”,
“malware”, and “hacking”). This means that percentages do
not necessarily add up to 100%. For example, if there are five
botnet breaches, the sample size is five. However, since each
botnet used phishing, installed keyloggers, and used stolen
credentials, there would be five social actions, five hacking
actions, and five malware actions, adding up to 300%. This
is normal, expected, and handled correctly in our analysis
and tooling.
When looking at the findings, “unknown” is equivalent to
“unmeasured”. If a record (or collection of records) contains
elements that have been marked as “unknown” (whether it’s
something as basic as the number of records involved in the
incident, or as complex as what specific capabilities a piece
of malware contained) we can’t make statements about
that particular element as it stands in the record—we can’t
measure where we have too little information.
Because they are “unmeasured,” they are not counted in
sample sizes. The enumeration “Other” is, however, counted
as it means the value was known but not part of VERIS. Finally,
“Not Applicable”, (normally “NA”), may be counted or not
counted depending on the hypothesis.
Non-incident data
The 2018 DBIR includes sections that required the analysis
of data that did not fit into our usual categories of “incident”
or “breach.” Examples of non-incident data include malware,
patching, phishing, DDoS, and other types of data. The sample
sizes for non-incident data tend to be much larger than the
incident data, but from fewer sources. We make every eort
to normalize the data, (for example reporting on the median
organization rather than the average of all data). We also
attempt to combine multiple contributors with similar data
to conduct the analysis wherever possible. Once analysis
is complete, we try to discuss our findings with the relevant
contributor(s) so as to validate it against their knowledge of
the data.
Bar Chart Statistical Significance
When we have a bar chart, we like to say things like “the
top bar is bigger than the bottom bar”. That works when
the bars are very dierent, but less so when they are
close. We feel it is best to present the data, but also be
clear about the caveats.
User device
Database (server)
Desktop (user device)
Asset varieties in large victim breaches
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 57. Top asset varieties in large victim breaches (n=492)
For example, in Figure 57, we know that servers are
more common than user devices at over a 99.9%
confidence level. On the other hand, we don’t even have
a 0.1% confidence that desktops are more common than
databases. In the end, anyone interested can calculate
the confidence for themselves using the number on the
bar and the sample size (n).
Appendix F: Data destruction
34. HT @hasherezade
Advanced Threat Research Team
McAfee Labs
Intuitively, a data breach implies data exfiltration. In 2017 we
have seen numerous examples of data breaches—with much
of that information finding its way into underground markets to
be sold and resold. Far less common but no less concerning
is when the data is not exfiltrated but is destroyed. In early
2017 we learned of Shamoon 2, a data-wiping campaign that
was a follow-up to a 2012 campaign targeting the oil industry.
This campaign targeted Saudi Arabia, specifically the labor
ministry and chemical firms. Although the world has been
subjected to data destruction attacks before, recent threats
have included specific targets for geopolitical, financial, or
simply disruptive means. One example of this was MBR-ONI,
a ransomware that targeted various Japanese organizations
in 2017. It was likely used to disrupt operations and provide
a cover for further malicious activity. Data destruction code
was also found in some variants of the Gh0st Remote Access
Trojan as well as in malware used in high-profile advanced
persistent threats (APTs) such as Shamoon 2. This APT
targeted a range of sectors including public, energy, and
NotPetya and WannaCry are two examples in 2017 of data
destruction under the guise of something else, in both cases
ransomware. Not only did these threats reach mainstream
media due to their impact, they also caused major headaches
and confusion across the globe.
NotPetya was first observed in mid-2017 and resembled
its predecessor Petya in many ways, including its ability to
encrypt the master boot record (MBR) and its use of Bitcoin as
the primary form of ransom payment. NotPetya also encrypted
far more files than the original Petya. The combination of
file and MBR encryption caused the infected device, along
with any data stored, to become unusable. What also set the
malicious software apart from the original is instead of backing
up the Salsa20 cipher key, which is used to recover the disk,
NotPetya instead erased the key.34 The key feature tipped
o the security industry to the malware’s intent. The authors
wanted complete destruction of the systems. This important
factor shows the threat actors behind the malware had neither
the intention nor the capability of releasing the encrypted files
even if the ransom was paid.
WannaCry exploded onto the scene in May 2017 and
demanded a ransom of US$300 for the decryption key.
The ransomware, which took advantage of the same SMB
flaws exploited by NotPetya, is estimated to have infected
more than 300,000 systems across 150 countries in a
matter of days. As WannaCry spread, there were increasing
reports that those who paid the ransom never received the
decryption keys to recover their files, raising questions about
both the eectiveness of the malware, as well as the use of
“ransomware” as opposed to “wiper” to describe the threat.
Researchers later discovered that WannaCry was unable to
determine which victim had paid the ransom, due to a code
flaw that was probably intentional. This defect rendered the
infected files virtually undecryptable.
Appendix G: Timely and appropriate breach
response for better outcomes
Joe Hancock and Hugo Plowman
Mishcon de Reya LLP
Over the past year, we have seen a steady increase in reports
from our clients of financial fraud and other attacks targeting
their financial assets. These attacks are sector agnostic, and
the majority of our instructions are triggered by clients who
fear losses of under £1m. It seems that financially motivated
attackers are content to take what they can get, and are
targeting a wider base of businesses to make their business
model successful. The single most important factor which
determines the prospects of making a successful recovery
after a financial fraud of this nature is the speed of response.
If action is delayed until after the “golden 24 hours” following a
financial fraud, it makes recovery of funds through the banking
system much more dicult.
By contrast, our experience over the past year shows that
attackers who wish to gain access to information assets or
trade secrets are much more targeted and adopt an “all or
nothing” approach. The majority of data breaches that we
have seen during this period involve some form of “insider”
component. As a result of the level of access often aorded
to insiders and with the luxury of the time that they have to
extract data, the average volume of data taken per breach still
remains unacceptably high. While it is possible that smaller
data breaches go unnoticed or unreported and are less keenly
felt by the business than the loss of cash or mass data, we
remain of the view that businesses could do more to protect
against the insider threat and to ensure that one breach does
not lead to the loss or corruption of all data.
Regardless of motive, response to a data theft incident that
has been perpetrated by an insider must also be swift. The
quicker the notification, and the quicker that the response
team can mobilize and respond, the better chance we have of
securing the necessary evidence to identify the wrongdoer,
recover assets and otherwise minimize the commercial and
reputational impact of a breach.
In addition to being prompt, an eective, business-led
response is needed. The focus should be on recovering
funds and data but at the same time providing timely
communications to stakeholders, as well as notifying data
subjects and regulators. In the coming year, we expect a
focus, both in the public and private sector in the UK, on
holding those responsible for cybercrime to account, and a
more rapid approach to dealing with the business impact of a
breach given the arrival of the new General Data Protection
Appendix H: Web applications
On secondary thought
This year, like last, we removed several thousand (23,244 but
who’s counting) incidents where web applications were
compromised with a secondary motive. In other words, they
are compromised to aid and abet in the attack of another
victim. They are legitimate incidents but are light on actionable
details such as the variety(ies) of hacking used to gain control
of the asset. In addition to these concerns, we also cannot
confirm if they were organizational breaches. So rather
than analyze them as part of the main dataset, we call them
out here.
Figure 58 sheds a bit of light on the actors’ objectives by
examining how they alter the integrity of the compromised
web servers. In some instances, websites were repurposed to
send spam, participate in DoS attacks or perform other illicit
tasks. In still other cases, websites were used to store and
deploy malicious code, and/or were rebuilt to mimic legitimate
sites and then used in phishing campaigns.
This underlines the fact that even if there is no sensitive
data resident on a web server, it is still a desirable target
for criminals as part of their infrastructure. It is important to
keep up with the security basics (patching vulnerabilities,
server version currency, decommissioning legacy devices) to
prevent a server in your IP space from appearing on a threat
intelligence naughty list.
Software installation
Top integrity varieties in secondary motive
web app incidents
100%0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Figure 58. Top varieties of web application integrity loss in incidents
with secondary motive (n=23,244)
More lines, not more problems
Regardless of the adversary’s motive, don’t make the mistake
of thinking that just because your web applications are small,
you get a free pass. When it comes to web applications,
Figure59 illustrates that there is almost no relationship
between the Lines of Code (LOC) reviewed and the number of
instances of a given type of vulnerability.
Vulnerability count
0 500,000 1,000,000
Lines of code
Number of lines of code and vulnerability count
Figure 59. Relationship between lines of code and number of
vulnerabilities discovered, n=164
Appendix I: Contributing organizations
© 2018 Verizon. All Rights Reserved. The Verizon name and logo and all other names, logos, and slogans identifying Verizon’s products and services are trademarks
and service marks or registered trademarks and service marks of Verizon Trademark Services LLC or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All
other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. 04/18
Contributing organizations
Akamai Technologies
Arbor Networks
AsTech Consulting
Beyond Trust
Center for Internet Security
CERT Insider Threat Center
CERT European Union
Champlain College’s Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd
Cisco Security Services
Computer Incident Response Center Luxembourg (CIRCL)
Cybercrime Central Unit of the Guardia Civil (Spain)
CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of
Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI)
Cyentia Institute
DFDR Forensics
Digital Edge
Emergence Insurance
G-C Partners
GRA Quantum
Grey Noise
Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team
Irish Reporting and Information Security Services (IRISS-CERT)
Kaspersky Lab
Lares Consulting
Malicious Streams
Mishcon de Reya
MWR InfoSecurity
National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration
Center (NCCIC)
OpenText (formerly Guidance Software)
Palo Alto Networks
Pwnie Express
Social-Engineer, Inc.
US Secret Service
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
VERIS Community Database
Verizon DOS Defense
Verizon Network Operations and Engineering
Verizon Professional Services
Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center
Vestige Ltd
Winston and Strawn
... According to Verizon (2019), phishing played a part in 78% of all Cyber-Espionage incidents and 87% of all installations of C2 malware in the first quarter of 2019 (Verizon, 2019). In the earlier report by Widup et al. (2018), it is reported that 78% of people didn't click a single phish all year, meaning that 22% of people did click one. Moreover, only 17% of these phishing campaigns were reported by users. ...
... Moreover, only 17% of these phishing campaigns were reported by users. It is also emphasised that even though training can reduce the number of incidents, phish happens (Widup et al., 2018). Since only a single e-mail is needed to compromise an entire organisation, protection against it should be taken seriously. ...
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This paper reports on a three-part investigation into people’s perceptions of cybersecurity, based on their lived experiences. We sought thereby to reveal issues located within the Johari grid’s “Blind Spot” quadrant. We utilized research methodologies from both the Arts and Science in order firstly to identify blind spot issues, and secondly to explore their dimensions. Our investigation confirmed a number of aspects that we were indeed aware of, when it came to people’s lived cybersecurity experiences. We also identified one particular blind spot issue: widespread, but not universal, negativity towards cybersecurity. We then carried out an investigation using a recognized methodology from psychology, as a first attempt to assess the nature of this negativity and to get a sense of its roots. What our initial experiment revealed was that scoping cybersecurity-related emotions is nontrivial and will require the formulation of new measurement tools. We conclude by reporting on the challenges, to inform researchers who plan to extend the research reported in this paper.