New Report Investigates Cybercrime


No matter the industry, security in today’s connected world is most likely a top-ranking concern. In fact, for consumers and businesses alike, the threat of data breaches and other cyber threats loom dangerously close. This is because, like the various technologies society uses on a daily basis, cybercrime seems to become more innovative with time.

Security researchers from Verizon,, and 49 other organizations from around the world, have compiled the seventh iteration of the company’s comprehensive data breach report, which is meant to provide a snapshot of today’s cybersecurity landscape. For the first time, the report includes security incidents that have not resulted in breaches, as well as those that have. 

In all, Verizon says its newly released 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report analyzes more than 1,300 confirmed data breaches and more than 63,000 reported security incidents throughout a 10-year range of study. Unfortunately, the data suggests most organizations can’t keep up with cybercrime. In fact, Wade Baker, who is the principal author of the Data Breach Investigations Report series, says, “the bad guys are winning.”

The hope is the report will help change this reality by increasing awareness and identifying ways for organizations to target their efforts. The Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report highlights nine threat patterns the company says are responsible for a large majority (up to 92%) of the security incidents analyzed. These threat patterns include miscellaneous errors, which can be as simple as sending an email to the wrong person; “crimeware,” which Verizon defines as malware aimed at gaining control of systems; insider misuse; physical theft and loss; Web app attacks; POS (point-of-sale) intrusions; and payment card skimmers; among others. 

The threat patterns most likely to cause issues vary by industry. For instance, the report suggests 75% of the incidents in the financial-services sector come from Web app attacks, distributed denial of service, and card skimming, while threats like POS intrusions are higher ranking in the retail sector. (However, the report also suggests POS attacks in retail are following a downward trend.) Perhaps not surprisingly, the data-breach report finds stolen or misused user names and passwords is the most common way cybercriminals gain access to information, resulting in two of every three breaches. 

The report’s ultimate message is clear: no organization is immune from a data breach. However, the M2M industry is proof positive that data in the hands of decisionmakers can change the fate of a business. The data-breach report provides the data; now it’s up to us to do something with it.

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