Highlights From Verizon Data Breach Report 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anton Chuvakin


With RSA 2015 and some writing deadlines (while analysts generally enjoy stress-free living, we do have deadlines too!), I almost forgot to study the Verizon’s jam-packed-with-juicy-awesomeness DBIR 2015.

Here are my traditional highlights and favorites from Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report [PDF].

  • Reported insider abuse features in 20.6% [see Fig 24] of all reported security incidents and 10.6% [see Fig 25] of confirmed data breach insiders (so not surprising: insider threat still doesn’t matter much to most – and based on this data, it really should not [of course, there are situations where it matters A LOT. Hi Snowden!])
  • RAM scrapping has grown a lot [hi PCI DSS!] “RAM scraping has grown up in a big way. This type of malware was present in some of the most high-profile retail data breaches of the year” [in plan English: encrypt all traffic including on the LAN? Encrypt all stored card data? Well, duh, you are still screwed! :-(]
  • “Even worse, the two lines [time to compromise and time to discover the compromise] are diverging over the last decade, indicating a growing “detection deficit” between attackers and defenders. We think it highlights one of the primary challenges to the security industry.” <- self-explanatory reminder of the 1980s security mantra “prevention / detection / response”
  • Fun threat intel (TI) fact: many threat intel feeds do and do not overlap (!). Huh? Research by Niddel [now included in DBIR – hi Alex!] revealed that so-called inbound TI feeds (scanning, spam, etc) overlap a lot, while outbound feeds (exfil, malware C&C) do not (see page 8 for details). Thus “if threat intelligence indicators were really able to help an enterprise defense strategy, one would need to have access to all of the [TI] feeds from all of the providers to be able to get the “best” possible coverage.” (so, get a TIP?)
  • I liked their new data-driven pre/post-breach coverage, new this year. For example, this data-driven tip on patching: “We found that 99.9% of the exploited vulnerabilities had been compromised more than a year after the associated CVE was published” and “Figure 13 demonstrates the need for all those stinking patches on all your stinking systems.”
  • My SHOCK OF THE YEAR: “Consistent with some other recent vendor reports, we found that 70 to 90% (depending on the source and organization) of malware samples are unique to a single organization.” <- I knew custom / unique malware is not uncommon, but I didn’t know that the numbers are that high [bye AV!]
  • Another fun bit: a stolen record costs roughly …. not $188, not $201, but $0.58, if averaged over all breaches, including hyper-mega-breaches! Well, a better model (see the report for details) seem to peg the cost in $52-$87 range per record, depending of course on breach size due to fixed cost not associated with the record count.
  • Mobile malware really doesn’t matter: “An average of 0.03% of smartphones per week—out of tens of millions of mobile devices on the Verizon network— were infected with “higher-grade” malicious code.” [again, as with insiders, there are cases where it matters A LOT – hi Inception!]
  • Credential abuse still reign supreme [hi 1980s!]: “Pulling back from a single industry view, we find that most of the attacks make use of stolen credentials, which is a story we’ve been telling since 1 A.D.48 Over 95% of these incidents involve harvesting creds from customer devices, then logging into web applications with them.”

In any case, go read the report!

This was cross-posted from the Gartner blog.

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