Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Verizon Business Examines the Problem of Data-Breaches

Enterprises should assess their security strategies knowing that the challenges differ significantly by industry and that a one-size-fits-all approach is rarely effective, according to a newly released study from Verizon Business.
The study is based on the 2008 Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report, issued in June. This report analyzed breaches spanning four years and more than 500 forensic investigations involving 230 million compromised records including three of the five largest breaches ever reported.

Some key findings:

Financial Services

  • Financial services face a greater risk from insiders, whereas partners represent the chief source of risk for other industries analyzed.

  • A blend of attack types is used against financial services, with deceit and misuse as the most common attacks.

  • On average, attacks take longer and tend to be more sophisticated. Discovery often takes weeks, although financial services organizations generally learn of breaches more quickly than other types of organizations.

  • Relative to other industries, financial organizations demonstrated a higher level of asset awareness. Breaches associated with unknown or lost systems, data, connections and privileges occurred far less frequently.

High-Tech Services

  • The picture in high-tech services is complex. More than any other industry, errors were a contributing factor and attacks were fairly sophisticated. Though presumably tech-savvy, high-tech organizations had a difficult time keeping track of information assets and system configurations.

  • Malicious insiders are a big issue. Insider misuse, which refers to using granted resources or privileges, or both, for any unauthorized purpose, is much higher in high-tech. Such behavior is inherently difficult to control in a culture where workers often have high levels of access to many systems.

  • Hacking is significant. Tech firms tend to do a better job on basic system and application configurations, forcing attackers to rely on vulnerabilities to compromise systems. A consistent and comprehensive approach to patch deployment is often lacking.

  • Attacking Web applications represents the most common method of intrusion. Additionally, the percentage of breaches involving intellectual property is higher in the high-tech community.

  • Retail

    • Retail represents the largest portion of the overall cases analyzed.

    • Many attacks exploit remote access connections, but Web applications are also frequently targeted. Attacks on wireless networks are growing and are significantly higher than in any other industry.

    • Simple attacks are prevalent, but a considerable number of more difficult attacks were employed against retail establishments.

    • Retail is highly reliant on third-parties to discover breaches. Typically, discovery happens more quickly than in food and beverage but lags behind both the finance and high-tech industries.

    • Overall, attacks against this industry are largely opportunistic, seeking quick payloads of data that can easily be used for fraudulent purposes.

    Food and Beverage

    • Most breaches originate from external sources but leverage a partner's trusted remote access connection as the point of entry into online repositories of payment card data.

    • These attacks rely on poor security configurations rather than application or software vulnerabilities, are quickly executed and are highly repeatable.

    • Many attacks exploited point-of-sale systems that criminals use to stage additional attacks and spread malware (corrupt software) throughout food and beverage chain establishments.

    • It takes food and beverage organizations a considerable amount of time to learn of a breach. When they do, the discovery is almost always made by a third party.

    See also