Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2022 - The Findings

After a challenging year of well-publicised critical infrastructure attacks, massive supply chain breaches and financially motivated incidents, business leaders and individuals alike are only too aware of the risks of cybercrime. The 15th annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) takes a deep dive into the data, analysing tens of thousands of security incidents and data breaches that took place in 2021. The aim is to educate businesses about the common action types used against enterprises and to better prepare them to bolster their defences. In this article, we’ll summarise the key findings from the report with a focus on what has happened in the Asia Pacific region.

Summary of Findings

The DBIR 2022 report highlighted several key findings:

  • There are four key entry routes to our businesses - credentials, phishing, exploiting vulnerabilities and botnets were found to be the key paths to entry and no business is safe without a plan in place to mitigate the risk.
  • There was a continued rise in ransomware - ransomware rose by 13%, an increase as big as the last five years combined. To stop ransomware, it’s vital to block the most common paths to entry.
  • Supply chain breaches had wide-ranging consequences - supply chain breaches were responsible for 62% of system intrusion incidents. Unlike financially motivated attacks, nation-state actors often focused on access.
  • Error continues to be a dominant trend - error was found to be responsible for 13% of breaches and was highly influenced by misconfigured cloud storage.
  • The human element continues to drive breaches - 82% of breaches involved the human element, whether due to theft of credentials, phishing, misuse, or human error.

Results and Analysis

The results and analysis section of the report focuses on the type of threat actors, the actions leading up to breaches, the assets being targeted, the impact on confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, and the timeline of data breaches. There were, again, some key findings within each of these areas:

1. Type of Threat Actors:

  • 80% of breaches were caused by external threat actors
  • The number of records breached reduced to 80,000, although it is suggested that this has been impacted by the increase in ways attackers monetise data.
  • Financially motivated attacks continued to be most common, although espionage-related attacks also increased.

2. Actions Leading up to Incidents:

  • Denial of Service (DoS) represented 46% of total incidents, followed by malware at 17%.
  • Web applications were the number one vector and were connected to the high number of DoS attacks.
  • Partner and software updates were among the top vectors for the first time.

3. Actions Leading up to Breaches:

  • Stolen credentials, ransomware and phishing were among the top five most common causes of breaches.
  • Web applications and email were the top two vectors, followed by carelessness and desktop sharing software.

4. Assets That Were Targeted:

  • The top three assets impacted in breaches were servers, people, and their devices in that order.
  • Web applications (58%) and mail servers (28%) accounted for the top two varieties.
  • Targets of social engineering were commonly individuals dealing with company money and with the ability to do things with it.
  • Operational technology incidents accounted for around 3% of incident data and, while only small, represented an increase from last year.

5. Impact on Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of Data:

  • The top two data types were credentials and personal data.
  • The two most common types of integrity violations were system integrity by the installation of malware and user integrity due to the actions of adversaries.
  • 30% of breach cases involved malware and 20% involved a social action.
  • Ransomware was present in almost 70% of breaches and 38% of ransomware cases had some confidentiality compromise.
  • Regarding availability, obscuration and interruption made up a large number of incidents.

6. Timeline for Breaches

  • The top discovery method for breaches (over 50%) was actor disclosure.
  • The vast majority of breaches only included a handful of steps, with three actions being the most common such as phishing, downloader and ransomware.

Regional Focus - Asia Pacific (APAC)

As it has for the past three years, the 2022 DBIR analysed incidents and presented insights from a macro-region perspective. The report delivered some helpful and informative insights regarding the APAC region:

  • Social engineering, basic web application attacks and system intrusion represented 98% of breaches and continued to be persistent threats in the region.
  • 98% of breaches came from external threat actors.
  • 54% of attacks were financially motivated and 46% were related to espionage.
  • Credentials accounted for 72% of compromised data.
  • The social attacks in the region accounted for approximately twice the number of other regions and consisted almost exclusively of phishing (99%).
  • There were a substantial number of defacement attacks (over 2,800), much larger than in other areas.
  • The region had a lower number of ransomware cases than other areas.

Informing Your Cybersecurity Strategy

The findings from the 2022 edition of the DBIR provide a data-driven, real-world view of cybercrime. By taking on board the key findings from the report, you can be better placed to understand the key threats your business is facing. The information from the report aims to help raise your awareness of common tactics, better prepare you for what is to come in the year ahead and encourage support for new security initiatives to bolster your cybersecurity strategy.

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