Observations on the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report

Rick Holland

I was very excited to finally get a copy of the much-anticipated 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR.)  I have found the report to be valuable year after year.  This is the 6th iteration and this year’s report includes 621 confirmed data breaches, as well as over 47,000 reported security incidents.  18 organizations from across the globe contributed to the report this year.  The full report is 63 pages, and I have to say that Wade Baker and company did a great job making it an enjoyable read. I enjoyed the tone, and I found myself laughing several times as I read through it (Laughing and infosec aren't commonly said in the same breath.)  There are tons of great references as well, ranging from NASCAR, to Biggie Smalls, the Violent Femmes and more.  The mantra of this year’s report is “Understand Your Adversary’ is Critical to Effective Defense and Response.”   Here are a few observations: 

The focus on the adversary answers customer questions.  Who is the adversary? This is a frequent question from Forrester clients.  The Mandiant APT1 report stirred up much debate on state sponsored actors and Verizon's data and analysis gives us more perspective on this class of threat actor. The first table in the report profiles the threat actors that are targeting organizations.  It provides a high level view that I suggest you include in any type of executive engagement activity you participate in.  This 3rd party snapshot of the threat actors should resonate with a wide degree of audiences.

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A 2012 Security Incident Recap By The Numbers

Heidi Shey

Before we get too far along into 2013, I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on the events of 2012. Thanks to our friends at CyberFactors*, this is what we saw:

Overall

  • 1,468 (publicly reported) incidents. This includes everything from stolen laptops to external hacks to third party partners mishandling data to employees accidentally disclosing data via email.
  • 274,129,444 (known) records compromised. In the 608 cases where there was a record count reported, this was the total count. 

Types of data lost/compromised

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) was compromised in 53% of cases. This also includes credit card or bank account information, as well as medical or health insurance information.
  • Company confidential information (CCI) was compromised in 4% of cases. This includes things like proprietary intellectual property (IP), compensation data, business plans, corporate financial data, and information subject to a non-disclosure agreement with a third party. These types of incidents may not always be publicly reported, assuming that organizations are even aware that it has occurred or is happening. IP is a valuable asset, and must be protected
  • Governmental information was compromised in 42% of cases. This includes things like address, voting data, driver’s license numbers, state or Federal tax IDs, Social Security numbers, and passport information.
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