Deciphering the 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report

SSI is part of the IT security provider community, so it is important for us to ensure that our security services are up to date.  We need to know what the new threats are and where they are coming from so we can defend our data and our customers’ networks. The Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) contains this vital information; it is the industry-standard report for data breach information.  This report compiles data from 19 international partners to ensure that the reader can get the most comprehensive data possible.  I was given the task to read this report and get an understanding of the threats that lurk around every virtual corner.  I anticipated a long, dull read. One where I read the same line over and over again while sinking further into my chair and struggling to keep my eyes open.  But I was surprised to find the report a fluid and painless read.

It began with an explanation on the methods used to gather data. This is part of their “data collecting methodology”.  The data comes from sources from around the globe and is scrutinized to fit together in one coherent report. When we work together we can learn so much from each other. Good stuff. Moving along…  I noticed that most of the percentages shown added up to > 100%.  This is explained nicely without confusing me with too much math. “Many figures and tables in this report add up to more than 100%; this is not an error. It simply stems from the fact that items presented in a list are not always mutually exclusive, and thus, several can apply to any given incident .” The raw data can be downloaded from the DBIR site for those who are interested. This also included a nice example chart to illustrate the proper way to read the data—so helpful.

Once I got past the introductions and examples I got to the meat of the report, the who and how.  Most breaches are achieved with low difficulty by external actors who happen upon your poorly secured, feeble network.  The breaches usually occur through malware, hacking, and misuse (oh my!).  A smaller percent (14%) of breaches are caused by internal actors.  What is frightening and a bit sad is that most “insiders steal the information within 30 days of announcing their resignation .”  Lots of graphs and statistics jump out from the report and slap you awake.  This is happening right now, probably to you! And it’s coming from all directions! Scary.

In the end the report gives examples of all that you can do to prevent these breaches and defend your data. There is no “one size fits all” for IT security and the threats and measures taken depend on the company.  But the report does conclude with a list of “20 Critical Security Controls” to help.  Build your moat, raise the guard, install your unified threat management device and you stand a much better chance of preventing and surviving an attack.  I give the report 4 out of 5 stars.  Good read, interesting facts and statistics, but I still got a little sleepy at some points.  It may just be that my office chair is too comfy.

Download it out for yourself here, http://www.verizonenterprise.com/DBIR/2013/

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